Costa Mesa, CA asked in Estate Planning, Family Law, Real Estate Law and Probate for California

Q: I am the trustee on my grandparents living trust. Who are their beneficiaries?

I am listed as the trustee after my mom who is deceased. My grandparents trust only lists their children, my mom (deceased) and my aunt. I can find nothing on the trust that lists a 'beneficiary'. I am assuming that my aunt is a beneficiary and is entitled to half the value of the trust, but what about my mom? Since she is deceased, does her amount pass to her children (trust doesn't seem to be clear on that, although it is very wordy and I am having a bit of a hard time following it)?

2 Lawyer Answers
Howard E. Kane
Howard E. Kane
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Oakland, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about your mom's passing. I recommend that you have an attorney review the estate planning documents to help you understand the content. Due to COVID, it may be best to scan the documents so that they can be emailed to an attorney for review. It is also a good idea to have an attorney supervise the administration of the trust which will give you much-needed peace of mind.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

Julie King
Julie King
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Monterey, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Unfortunately, there is no way an attorney could tell you who your grandparents chose to be beneficiaries without reading your grandparents' trust. Otherwise, we would be guessing to whom they wanted to leave her assets.

I know there is a lot of legalese in trusts, but it is there for a reason. Some words have been defined certain ways going all the way back to England, before the United States was a country. So, if a word has one meaning for 200+ years and a lawyer today uses a different word, the law would assume the lawyer meant something different than the centuries' old definition. So, we use the same words to ensure judges, etc. know exactly what is meant. If you are unfamiliar with legalese, you should hire a lawyer to read your trust and advise you.

Please know that, as trustee, you have important legal duties, including giving certain notices in writing (containing language that is required by law.) You can be sued if you violate the duties and/or spend your grandparents' money on things that are not allowed. So, when the time comes, hire a lawyer to help you do it correctly. All the best to you!

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.