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In California, can a trustee be sued individually and not the trust itself?

Bakersfield, CA |

I'm a defendant in a lawsuit, sued individually as "trustee of XXX trust." The trust itself in not named. The only cause of action is for dec relief involving real estate. Can I demur to the complaint and, if so, on what grounds? I'm thinking misjoinder of party, but not sure.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Yes, you can be sued and it is pretty common: think about a trustee who steals. Here is a link which may give some guidance. You should get an attorney for help with the litigation. Depending on the trust, you may be entitled to reimbursement for attorneys fees..

    http://www.americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/guidelines_for_individual_executors_trustees.html

    Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org This posting is provided for "informational purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principals discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different States.


  2. To properly sue a trust, you sue the trust and the trustee. Take a look at this consumer site for a great resource about how to sue various entities. http://dca.lacounty.gov/tsNameParty.htm

    A failure to join the trust may be a failure to join an indispensable party. You should think about how to address the issue. There may some strategy involved in timing. Consult with an attorney before you go any further.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


  3. Because a trust is not a legal entity (like a corporation), it cannot sue or be sued, but rather legal proceedings are properly directed at the trustee. As such, the trustee is typically sued as an individual and as the trustee of X trust.

    The information/answer is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your individual situation. This attorney is only licensed to practice law in California. Your question and this answer do not create an attorney-client relationship. Do not send/post any confidential information.

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