Norwalk, CA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for California

Q: mY PARENTS HAVE A LIVING TRUST I AM ONE OF 3 CHILDREN WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO SEE THE TRUST ? DO THE CHILDREN

MY DAD PASSED OVER 5 YRS AGO AND MY MOM WILL BE SOON

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3 Lawyer Answers

James Edward Berge

Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • San Jose, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: As long as your parents’ trust is revocable, no one has the right to see their trust, not even their children. The only time that you have a right to see their trust is when that trust or a portion of that trust becomes irrevocable due to the death of a trustor, or you are entitled to discretionary payments of income or principal from their trust. Arguably you might also be entitled to see their trust if one trustor has died and the other is incapacitated. Check with a trusts and estates lawyer if you’re in doubt.

Nina Whitehurst

Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, when the trust becomes irrevocable (which occurs when the last settlor passes) the trustee must send notice to each beneficiary of the trust AND each heir of the settlor. If the trustee does not enclose a copy of the trust with that notice, any beneficiary or heir may request a copy. Even if an heir or beneficiary does not receive such a notice, he or she can still request a copy and is entitled to receive a copy.

To answer your question more succinctly, all of the children are entitled to see the trust, even if some or all of them are not beneficiaries.

Sanjoy Kumar Guha

Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • DURGAPUR

A: A beneficiary of trust is the individual or group of individuals for whom a trust is created for. The trust creator or grantor designates beneficiaries and a trustee, who has a fiduciary duty to manage trust assets in the best interests of beneficiaries as outlined in the trust agreement.

One type of beneficiary is ultimately entitled to take ownership and control of trust capital and the income it generates as outlined in the trust agreement. For example, a parent can establish a trust for a child giving the beneficiary control of its assets when the child reaches an age of maturity or upon death. This arrangement is common with revocable trusts, which distribute assets to beneficiaries upon the grantor's death. The identity of beneficiaries is up to the grantor, who can change beneficiaries or terminate the trust during his or her lifetime.

Beneficiaries of an irrevocable trust generally can't be changed and trust terms usually can't be amended without the beneficiaries' permission. However, the grantor still decides how trust principal and income may be distributed to beneficiaries. For example, an individual can set up a trust account to fund a child's educational expenses. The grantor can appoint the trustee to distribute funds to meet this goal without giving the child complete control over how trust income is spent.

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