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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36221
Experience:  16 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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This question pertains specifically to a California Living

Customer Question

Hi, this question pertains specifically to a California Living Trust and a potential action contesting the Trust.
Background:
My mom passed away in May 2015. In 1996 she prepared a Living trust which named my sister and me (her only two children) as the trust beneficiaries. My sister has now just informed me that in 2009 my mom amended her trust to disinherit me completely.
Question:
Since I have been disinherited I assume I no longer have the right to demand an accounting. Is that correct? If so, is there any other way for me to find out the value of the trust other than filing a lawsuit to contest the trust (and using the discovery process to determine the trust assets)?
Thank you very much
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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Question: Since I have been disinherited I assume I no longer have the right to demand an accounting. Is that correct?

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That is correct. Only a named beneficiary of the trust has the legal right to demand a copy of the trust and any information about it like an inventory or accounting since trusts are entirely confidential documents.

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If so, is there any other way for me to find out the value of the trust other than filing a lawsuit to contest the trust (and using the discovery process to determine the trust assets)?

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Unfortunately no. Your only recourse would be to try and contest the trust and have the changes declared invalid by proving some type of undue influence, coercion, or cognitive impairment that made mother act in a way that made her legally incompetent.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I really don't mean to be a jack*** but I'm just mildly concerned about your answer. You statement that only a beneficiary of the trust has a right to demand a copy is incorrect. According to the CA probate code16061.5. (a) A trustee shall provide a true and complete copy of
the terms of the irrevocable trust, or irrevocable portion of the
trust, to each of the following:
(1) Any beneficiary of the trust who requests it, AND TO ANY HEIR
of a deceased settlor who requests it,...Even though that wasn't specifically my question it gives me a just a shred of discomfort. If you would just make a good-faith effort to verify your answer to the substantive parts of my question I'd really appreciate it and I'd consider the question done. Thanks very much!
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

No worries...unfortunately I don't have the entire CA Trust and Probate Code memorized, so every now and then I will make a little error.

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But the substantive portion of your question was regarding an "accounting", not a copy of the trust. These are two entirely separate things. A copy of the trust is just that...a copy. An accounting is a detailed financial statement showing the inflows and outflows of assets into and out of the trust. If you are not a beneficiary of the trust, as I said initially, you wouldn't have any legal right to that information absent a court order.

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As for you being an heir, if you have been specifically disinherited, then you are no longer an heir. In California, the term "heir" is defined in the state probate code as people who are entitled to inherit a deceased person's property. So by virtue of the fact that you have been disqualified as being an heir, you don't have the legal standing to request a copy of the trust or an accounting...

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But you are correct that under that statute a legal heir of the grantor of the trust could request a copy of it, but the statute doesn't extend that right to any other information.

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I apologize for any confusion on my part...

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thanks

Barrister

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