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Does a lawyer have fiduciary duties to client/family to change irrevokeable trust to heir after clients death?

Sacramento, CA |

My grandparents had a trust that stated that all bonds, estate and commercial property were to stay in the family in the event of death of one of the beneficiaries. Can the same lawyer change heirs without permission of the other beneficiaries? Did the lawyer have a fiduciary duty to uphold our grandparents wishes?

Attorney Answers 4


Irrevocable trusts normally are modified. The trust normally has the distribution provisions and processes.

Keeping property "in the family" may have issues especially if it is a restraint on alienation... I recommend you see an attorney

This is for general information only. Nothing in this information should be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship nor shall any of this information be construed as providing legal advice. Laws change over time and differ from state to state. These answers are based on California Law.Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should not act upon the information presented herein without consulting an attorney about your particular situation. No attorney-client relationship is established.

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It is not possible to answer your question without reviewing the trust document, and what exactly the attorney supposedly did to "change heirs."

I suggest you take the trust document to an estates and trusts attorney, have it reviewed, and get some specific advice on your rights. It is not possible to provide specific advice in this forum. There are many fine attorneys who practice trusts and estates law on AVVO.

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Agree with colleagues. You need to review the trust. If you need an attorney, go to the Sacramento Bar for a referral -

Mr.Scalise offers a FREE consultation; he may be reached at 805-244-6850 or by email ( My responses to questions posted here intended as helpful legal information not legal advice. The information I post does not create an attorney-client relationship. Mr. Scalise is licensed to practice law in California. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about this issue, you must contact an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state, and retain him/her.

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Your question raises a couple of issues. First, the lawyer would have no power to change anything after your grandparents death. That said, if the lawyer was named as trustee, or hired by the trustee to represent the trustee, the lawyer would be able to act or assist in carrying out the terms of the trust.

Generally, the attorney does not owe any duties to the beneficiaries. That said, if the attorney is aiding the trustee in violating the trust, the attorney could have liability.

Also, regarding holding assets. Even if the trust directs certain assets to continue to be held in trust, the Trustee has a duty to diversify and manage the assets. To carry out that duty, the trustee may have to sell assets and buy other assets if they believe such conduct prudent.

I hope that helps. You really should seek out an attorney to assist and advise you, more than just asking questions on an online board.

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.

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