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My husband is listed in the family trust but I am not. If he dies do I receive his share of the trust?

Upland, CA |

I was told that I was listed as "causes/issues"

Attorney Answers 7

  1. There is not enough information in your question to answer it. In general, a trust should specifically indicate in the language who would receive property if the named beneficiary is deceased at the time the trust directs any distribution.

    For example, if the trust states, "to my husband, but if he is deceased to his intestate heirs," then the answer could be that you receive all of the property, or that the property is divided between you and your husband's children, if any. The trust might also indicate that the property passes to your husband's "issue" or "descendants," which would specifically mean his children if any.

    You should have the trust in question read and reviewed by a qualified estate planning attorney, who should be able to answer you question directly within 10 minutes after reading the trust document.

    Please remember to mark what you believe to be the best answer to your question. This answer is provided by estate planning attorney Robert P. Bergman, with offices in San Jose, California. Mr. Bergman is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization), and has been practicing since 1980. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is only intended to provide general legal advice within the limits of the question asked. If you wish to create an attorney-client relationship for specific legal advice, it will be necessary to enter into an engagement for legal services. More general legal information about wills, living trusts, and estate planning can be found at Mr. Bergman's main website at, or his information website at Mr. Bergman also offers free living trust seminars and wealth preservation seminars at his offices in San Jose. For those unable to attend a live seminar, an online living trust seminar may be viewed or downloaded at

  2. Exactly as aforementioned. When you say family trust do you mean a trust withh your spouse or does he have a trust with his family? This gets tricky. You can't touch a family trust as it is a form of inheritance. If it is a trust established during marriage and community property funds were used to start it the you need to understand that you do have a right to this. Please get an attorney well versed in this aspect of law as well as a divorce attorney.

  3. All of the above is speculation. You need to have the trust reviewed by an experienced estate attorney to see if you have any contingent rights in the trust. Nothing short of such review will help you here.

    Hope this helps.

    Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

    Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website is and his blog is

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is , his website is and his blog is <> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

  4. We'd definitely need to see a copy of the trust to answer this question. For one thing, just because you're in California doesn't mean that the trust is governed by California law.

    Typically, "issue" means lineal descendants of your husband (e.g. children, grandchildren) and there are rules that control who gets what if the trust is unclear. It is possible that the trust does include you, but unless the trust says that spouses take in the place of deceased beneficiaries (which is somewhat unusual), some further action is probably needed in order for you to really be a beneficiary in the event that something happens to your husband.

    Trust administration is very, very delicate and requires detailed knowledge of all of the relevant information. If you are concerned about this, you should take a copy of the trust to an attorney. I have had many beneficiaries come to me, think that they are in a trust because their names appear in the document, only to find out that they aren't beneficiaries at all because their entitlement was subject to a contingency that never happened.

    The foregoing does not constitute legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship. This information is general in nature and is intended for the public as a whole.

  5. If its your husband's family, the default, standard would be no. The terms of the trust would control. In order for your husband's share to go to you the trust would have to say that his share goes to you if he predeceases or dies before receiving full distribution of any share held in trust for him.

    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

  6. Unless you are named as a contingent beneficiary in the trust document, you would not receive your husband's share of the trust. If the trust document allows your husband to leave his share by his will, you could receive his share by being the beneficiary of your husband;s will. This provision is sometimes included in a trust where your husband is to receive distributions over time, but dies before all the trust share has been distributed.

  7. To answer this question, it is important to know if your husband has a complete copy of the trust, with all amendments (if any), and that he is agreeable to having the trust reviewed. The general rule is that the laws of a particular state will govern the interpretation of the trust, and most trusts will include the name of that state. Once you know the proper state, your husband can have the trust read by an attorney who is licensed to practice in that state. This service is usually offered for a very reasonable fee. The phrase in your question "causes/issues" is not familiar to me, and I cannot speculate on what is trying to convey. However, it is very likely the trust will state exactly what happens to your husband's share if he is a trust beneficiary and he predeceases you prior to receiving his share.

    This response is intended as general information applicable to California cases only, and does not create an attorney/client relationship. Additional facts must be known to provide a full and complete answer. You should consult an attorney experienced in this area of the law prior to making any final decision.

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