Skip to main content

Can my stepmother change my fathers Will and his Trust, if she is the executor on the estate?

Los Angeles, CA |

We are in California. They were married for 3 years when my father died. He left her most of his assets but he specified one piece of income property was to be for his adult children. He had a Trust, but I am not sure if it is a revocable or irrevocable Trust. He made her the executor of his estate and she seems to be trying to take everything. We have not been able to see the Will, and has changed lawyers from the one that set up the Will and Trust for my father. She is acting very secretive and we don't know what are rights are or what to do.

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Best answer

    Mr. Perry's answer really could not be better.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website:

  2. Your stepmother could not change your father's will. The terms of the trust will dictate whether she has the power to change it.

    If you are a beneficiary under the trust, you are entitled to a copy of the trust document. You may need to hire a trusts and estates attorney to write to your stepmother and ask for a copy, and to make sure that you get any share of the estate to which you and your siblings are entitled.

    You should not delay acting on this.

  3. Mr. Perry is correct. One additional point. If it has been more than 60 days since your father's passing, your step mother is in violation of Probate Code Section 16061.7 which REQUIRES her to provide copies to beneficiaries within 60 days of the likely irrevocability of your father's trust (usually irrevocable at death). If she is being secretive now, that is not likely going to change unless you force her hand. A letter from an attorney reminding her of her obligations usually does the trick.

  4. I am sorry for your loss. You have remedies but to exercise them you need to consult and retain an attorney to review the Will and declaration of trust to advise you. If you have not seen the documents, I wonder how you know that one piece of income property was to go to your father's adult children. The trust would become irrevocable upon your father's death. Since the trustee has an attorney it should not be difficult to "get to the bottom of this" in fairly short order once you retain counsel.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

  5. You have a right to a copy of the Trust. If the property was left in trust for the adult child, then its most likely in an irrevocable trust following your dad's death. You can also demand an account of the irrevocable trust either under PC Section 16061 (information not an account but almost the equivalent) or PC Section 16062 depending on the rights in the trust.

    You should seek out Trust Litigation counsel immediately.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

  6. The documents need to be reviewed by an experienced Estate Planning Attorney. There are a plethora of issues that could affect the validity of the document and its administration.

    No legal representation exists by virtue of this answer. It is recommended that you contact an attorney directly for a more complete response.

Wills and estates topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics