Can a successor Trustee of a family trust legally remove the property from the trust & deed it to herself as her sole property?

Asked 12 months ago - Pleasant Hill, CA

My Grandma created a trust in 1986 & named her 4 daughters as successive successor Trustees with a life estate.After the death of the last successor Trustee the proceeds would go to the Trustor's grandchildren (I am one of her 5 grandchildren.) However, the first successor Trustee removed the house from the Trust (I think using a quit title deed) 9 years after my Grandma's death and deeded it to herself as her sole property. She then used the property to secure loans, for personal use, that were not in benefit to the Trust or it's beneficiaries and may be over the value of the property. Can you give me any advice as whether I still have any legal rights to the property and what action I could take to secure my rights per my Grandma's Declaration of Trust.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . Depending on when all of this happened, you may have recourse. Of course, you would need to sue your aunt, which is not fun to contemplate. It may also be the case that your aunt is not collectible. It is something worth looking into, however, in order to preserve your potential inheritance. I would have an attorney review the trust agreement as soon as possible. It is possible that the trust gave your aunt the right to do what she did. Without reviewing the trust in detail, there is no way to say for sure.

    James Frederick

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  2. John Noah Kitta

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . It is statistically improbable that the successor trustee was empowered by the trust to take the property out of the trust and use it for his or her sole benefit. In all probability the trust document itself clearly states what is permissible and what is not permissible. Depending on how many years have passed and whether you knew or should have known of this incident, it certainly may be actionable. It is not impossible it could be criminal and you might be looking at embezzlement. First thing to do is to sit down and carefully read the trust. If you don’t have a copy of the trust and the trustee will not give you a copy of the trust, then you will have to go to Probate Court and get an order for a copy of the trust. Another thing that would be helpful would be an asset check on the trustee and see what can be found out about him or her financially.

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  3. Kari Dawn Coultis

    Pro

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    Answered . I agree that you need to have an attorney review the trust agreement to see what it allowed your aunt to do. If the terms of the trust did not allow for what she did, your recourse would be to sue her. You will need to weigh the time, effort, and expense of suing her with the potential collectibility of any judgment you may get. Good luck!

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-... more

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