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  1. #1
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    Default How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    My question involves estate proceedings in the state of California.

    I know that California law allows possible beneficiaries (heirs) to get a copy of an irrevocable trust. Also, any wills.

    In this case, there was apparently no probate (as assets outside of trust were few). Trustee did not provide relatives with copy of trust or pourover will.

    How do you style a pleading to enforce the right to see the trust or will? The major asset in the trust was property. Can a lis pendens be filed on the property until the trust documents are provided?

    Thanks.

    Ibn

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    Try going to the Superior Court where the Trust would likely be filed.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    Thanks. But what would I file, and how would the case be styled (e.g., In re Trust of X or "Me v. Trustee" or how. And what type of relief would I ask for?

    I'm sorry for the basic question, but would the trust be filed in Superior Court? I looked at online database of filings and couldn't find it, but perhaps I missed. Would the trust have to be filed?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    It's a matter of public record in the Superior Court. Unlike a will (without a Trust) there is no Probate, and no publication of the Probate of the Estate. A Trust is generally recorded with the Superior Court, because it effectively circumvents Probate.

    I doubt you'd have to file anything. Find out if the Trust if recorded in Superior Court first.

    Also, a "pour over will" does not have to filed with Probate, either, since it becomes part of the original Trust, which is filed (along with the Trust documents) in Superior Court.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    With the probate section of the Superior Court?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    No. Only "life-related" documents are filed with Probate - these include Birth records, Marriage records, Death Certificates, and Wills.....all the things that have to do with being born, living, and dying.

    Trusts are typically attached to real estate or personal property, therefore, they would be filed in Superior Court, where Real Estate Deeds and such are filed.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    In court, or at the county clerk's office, which is where most deeds, mortgages, etc. are filed?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    Don't know the set-up at that particular court. The Superior Court clerk's office is usually where you'd need to go.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    It is misleading to suggest that it is likely that trust is on file with a court, or that trusts are filed with courts as a matter of routine. Although many states offer the opportunity to register a trust or will, as many people who draft trusts do so to avoid probate, to ensure privacy or both, you should expect that in a typical case a trust will not be available as a public document.

    If a will is probated, it will be in the court file. If not, there's no court file to look at. If you believe that the will should have gone through probate either because the estate does not qualify for resolution as a small estate, or because your concerns over the distribution of assets raise questions of conflicting claims that must be resolved via probate, you can open an estate and ask that the administrator be ordered to tender the will to the estate.

    A trustee's duties to beneficiaries are outlined in the Probate Code. See, inter alia, Sec. 16060 et seq.
    Quote Quoting California Probate Code, Sec. 16060.7.
    On the request of a beneficiary, the trustee shall provide the terms of the trust to the beneficiary unless the trustee is not required to provide the terms of the trust to the beneficiary in accordance with Section 16069.
    If the trustee won't fulfill his duties, the beneficiaries can bring an action in the probate court seeking disclosure of the trust, an accounting if desired, or other appropriate relief.

  10. #10
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    Mar 2012
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    Default Re: How to Enforce Right to See Trust in California

    Mr. Knowitall,

    Thanks. I did call Superior Court and there was nothing there.

    To that end, a) to force disclosure, how would the case be styled and (e.g., "me v. trustee" or "In re: Trust of Mr. and Mrs. X?"

    Also, I don't know if I'm a beneficiary. I'm an heir (son), but have been told I'm not a beneficiary. Does this change things at all?

    Ibn

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