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How much time does the trustee of an estate have before notifying the beneficiaries?

Los Angeles, CA |

My sister is the trustee of our mothers estate, she has not sent me any notification and it has been 5 months. What can I do to get this process going. It is clear in the estate that we are both to receive 50% of the estate.

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Best answer

    I am sorry for your loss. I agree with Attorney Symons If there is a trust, the trustee must, within 60 days after the death of the trustor/trustee provide all beneficiaries and heirs with notice that meets the requirements of Probate Code Sec. 16061.7. This notice must notify the beneficiaries of the change in trustee and that the trust is now irrevocable due to the death. The notice should advise the beneficiaries of their right to request and receive a copy of the terms of the trust. It sounds like your mother had a trust. If so, you should probably make a written request to your sister for information on the status of the trust administration. You can also make a written request for an accounting of trust. If your sister does not respond to you, or fails to provide an accounting within 60 days after you make your written request, you may need to consider whether it would be necessary to file a Probate action to force her compliance or have her removed as trustee.

    Most of the time, a trust will also include a pour-over will. If this is the case, or if your mother just had a will without a trust, the custodian of her original will (usually the executor/successor trustee such as your sister) must (1) lodge the original will with the clerk of the superior court and (2) mail a copy of the will to the named executor (if your sister does not have custody of the will) within 30 days of learning of the death. This is the requirement under the code, even where no Probate is required (Probate Code Sec. 8200). In California, where there is an estate subject to Probate, there is no deadline for filing a Probate, but if the executor does not file for Probate within a reasonable time, an interested person, such as your, may begin the Probate process. An interest person is someone, usually a beneficiary, who would have an interest in the estate.

    I recommend that you consult an attorney to decide on the best course of action.

    Disclaimer: The above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. My responses are intended to provide general information about the question posted. I am licensed to practice in the state of California. The information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for conferring with or hiring a competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your state.

  2. As Trustee she has a fiduciary DUTY to notify the beneficiaries as soon as possible and to make distribution according to the Trust document. If there is no Trust she needs to open a Probate within 30 days of your mother's death. See under Find-A-Lawyer for an Estate Planning attorney nearby. Good Luck!

  3. If your sister is the trustee of a trust then within 60 days of your mother's death, she needs to send you a notice that she is the trustee of the trust and advise you of your right to obtain a copy of the Trust. Probate (Probate Code 16061.7 - See link)

    If your mother had a Will, then the custodian of the Will needs to lodge the Will with the court in the county in which your mother resided within 30 days of her death even if there is no probate because your mother had a fully funded revocable trust.

    Do you have copies of any documents? I cannot tell based on your comments. Talk to an estate planning/probate lawyer. There are ways that you can push your sister to act, but it will depend on facts that are not in your post.


  4. Attorneys Symon and Potter are correct. I would urge you to retain an experienced attorney to represent your interests and push your sister to live up to her responsibilities. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.

  5. Notification of what? There are various requirements under the probate code regarding notification. It appears you already know your sister is trustee of your mother's trust estate. What else do you think you need to know?

    My suggestion: Consult a probate attorney to determine what, if any, action you should take at this time. You should be aware that there are other ways to dispose of assets, other than through the trust instrument. It is possible your sister is trustee of an unfunded trust estate. Good luck.

    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 or counsel. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice and counsel 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 and counsel 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 or counsel in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for advice and counsel. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

  6. In order to answer your question, its necessary to know if your mother had a funded trust. A Trustee is the person who controls a trust. Notice of the change of trustee or when the trust became irrevocable (your mother's death) is req'd within 60 days. If there was no trust, and probate will be necessary, the will is supposed to be lodged or file within 30 days and probate proceedings are to be initiated in 30 days unless good cause for the delay.

    You should write your sister a letter and request that she provide you with an account and copy of the trust or file for probate immediately. If she does not comply, you will most likely have to get an attorney.

    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. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.

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