Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
Thank you for your question and I look forward to working on your answer. Please keep in mind that I can only respond to your post and the information contained in it, as I do not know what you know unless you describe it fully. Also, due to site tech reasons, oftentimes I am initially only able to see the first part of your post, so I apologize in advance if I ask a redundant question.
That being said, in order to better assist you, could you please clarify for me:
1. Are you the Trustee of the Trust?
I look forward to getting to work on this for you. Hang in there!
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A times there can be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be helping other customers or taking a break. In addition, if it is late at night, EST, and we are between postings, I may go get some shut eye, but I'll be back the next day, so never fear. On Saturday, there will be greater gaps in time due to scheduling, for any needed follow up, but rest assured, by day's end it will be done.
In the interest of getting you your answer expeditiously, I am going to assume that you are the Trustee of the Trust in question. And, there is no reason why you shouldn't be compensated for this arduous job, just as if you refused the job and a professional trustee had to be hired, it is a paying job.
In California, the law of living trusts is found in the Probate Code.
a) Subject to subdivision (b), and except as provided inSection 15688, if the trust instrument provides for the trustee'scompensation, the trustee is entitled to be compensated in accordancewith the trust instrument.
(b) Upon proper showing, the court may fix or allow greater orlesser compensation than could be allowed under the terms of thetrust in any of the following circumstances:
(1) Where the duties of the trustee are substantially differentfrom those contemplated when the trust was created.
(2) Where the compensation in accordance with the terms of thetrust would be inequitable or unreasonably low or high.
(3) In extraordinary circumstances calling for equitable relief.
c) An order fixing or allowing greater or lesser compensationunder subdivision (b) applies only prospectively to actions taken inadministration of the trust after the order is made.
The court may fix an amount of periodic compensation under Sections 15680 and 15681 to continue for as long as the court determines is proper.
a) As used in this section, "trustee's fee" includes, butis not limited to, the trustee's periodic base fee, rate ofpercentage compensation, minimum fee, hourly rate, and transactioncharge, but does not include fees for extraordinary services. (b) A trustee may not charge an increased trustee's fee foradministration of a particular trust unless the trustee first givesat least 60 days' written notice of that increased fee to all of thefollowing persons: (1) Each beneficiary who is entitled to an account under Section16062. (2) Each beneficiary who was given the last preceding account. (3) Each beneficiary who has made a written request to the trusteefor notice of an increased trustee's fee and has given an addressfor receiving notice by mail. (c) If a beneficiary files a petition under Section 17200 forreview of the increased trustee's fee or for removal of the trusteeand serves a copy of the petition on the trustee before theexpiration of the 60-day period, the increased trustee's fee does nottake effect as to that trust until otherwise ordered by the court orthe petition is dismissed.
So, yes, it is irrelevant that you are family, this is a job and they are being greedy and cheap if they think you should give up your valuable time to give THEM charity (particularly when they clearly don't need it, given the trust).
If the Trust language it self is silent, you must figure out waht is reasonable under the circumstances, for compensaton.
What is reasonable under the circumstances? I see 3/4 of a percent to 1 1/4% of the trust assets. One attorney recommends going to various banks with trust departments and grabbing their brochures about their trust services to see what the going rate is in your particular location in California. Sounds like an excellent idea.
You can charge accordingly. If you want to make nice, consider charging on the lower end of the spectrum, but I would not let anyone even try to guilt me into working for free. Not only can it be very hard work, it comes with it all sorts of liabilities, fiduciary duties, etc. Why take on that headache when you culd hire a company to do it, if you will not be charging? The estate can certainly afford it. My opinion :)
Hope this helps to clarify.
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Thank you for your answer. It did help me to understand my situation. I will use your opinion accordingly. Frasier1968 :)
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