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 in
Section 15688, if the trust instrument provides for the trustee's
compensation, the trustee is entitled to be compensated in accordance
with the trust instrument.
(b) Upon proper showing, the court may fix or allow greater or
lesser compensation than could be allowed under the terms of the
trust in any of the following circumstances:
(1) Where the duties of the trustee are substantially different
from those contemplated when the trust was created.
(2) Where the compensation in accordance with the terms of the
trust 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 compensation
under subdivision (b) applies only prospectively to actions taken in
administration of the trust after the order is made.
If the trust instrument does not specify the trustee's compensation, the trustee is entitled to reasonable compensation under the circumstances.
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, but
is not limited to, the trustee's periodic base fee, rate of
percentage compensation, minimum fee, hourly rate, and transaction
charge, but does not include fees for extraordinary services.
(b) A trustee may not charge an increased trustee's fee for
administration of a particular trust unless the trustee first gives
at least 60 days' written notice of that increased fee to all of the
(1) Each beneficiary who is entitled to an account under Section
(2) Each beneficiary who was given the last preceding account.
(3) Each beneficiary who has made a written request to the trustee
for notice of an increased trustee's fee and has given an address
for receiving notice by mail.
(c) If a beneficiary files a petition under Section 17200 for
review of the increased trustee's fee or for removal of the trustee
and serves a copy of the petition on the trustee before the
expiration of the 60-day period, the increased trustee's fee does not
take effect as to that trust until otherwise ordered by the court or
the 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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