Q: My father recently died. He and my stepmother and are the settlors of their revocable trust. Am I, as his child,
entitled to a copy of the trust if my stepmother is still alive? My stepmother also mentioned I am a co-trustee. I have not received a copy of the trust.
Under California law, the acquisition of real property through a tax deed sale generally extinguishes certain prior encumbrances, including mortgages, junior liens, and non-tax-related claims. However, specific circumstances and notice requirements may impact the validity of this extinguishment. It is advisable to conduct a thorough title search and consult with legal counsel to ascertain the status of such encumbrances.
James L. Arrasmith
Founder and Chief Legal Counsel of The Law Offices of James L. Arrasmith
A: Under California law (Probate Code section 16061.7) every trust beneficiary, and every heir-at-law of the decedent, is entitled to receive a copy of the trust document. However, the beneficiaries only have the right to obtain a copy of the trust when their rights have vested. The beneficiary’s rights vest when the trust becomes irrevocable, which is usually upon the death of the grantors (persons who created the trust). The trustee is not required to provide a copy of the trust to a beneficiary if the trust is revocable. Should the trustee refuse to provide a copy, a petition can be filed with the probate court. The rights of a beneficiary vest in a trust when it becomes irrevocable. For most revocable trusts, the trust becomes irrevocable when the creator of the trust passes away. Before the death of the grantors, trust documents can be revised at any time. This includes changing the beneficiaries or what they are entitled to receive. As such, the beneficiaries have no assurance that they are beneficiaries permanently. Therefore, they have no right to view a copy of the declaration. When the trust creators pass away, the terms of the trust can no longer be amended (changed). Since the trust terms have become irrevocable, the beneficiaries now have a vested interest in the trust property. Once the interest of the beneficiaries has vested, they have a right to receive a copy of the trust instrument under California trust law.
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