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Do gambling debts get assumed by a Trust in the state of California?

San Diego, CA |

My father passed away and all assets were in the Family Trust. My mother preceded him in death. I believe he may have some outstanding gambling debts from a tribal casino in CA. Does the trust need to assume these debts ?

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Attorney answers 4


The trustee is obligated to notify all known creditors of the administration of the decedent's trust, pay all lawful debts, and may be personally liable if distribution is made without having done so. I am not aware of a lawful gambling debt being treated any differently in California.
Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.


One threshold question here will be whether the debts were legitimate gambling debts. Most states (I am not sure on CA) hold debts from illegal gambling as unenforceable. If these debts came from a tribal casino, they're probably legitimate, but if they're from an illegal operation they may not be. In any event, you'll want to have your attorney investigate further.

I focus my practice on (video) gaming industry, casino gambling, and complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. I primarily represent game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies. The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship.


The key is whether the gambling debts are truly legitimate and legal. Hire a trust attorney and have a complete analysis done to determine all options. Good luck and my condolences for your loss.


The result will hinge on the terms of the trust. If it was a revocable trust the assets would be subject to his legal debts. If it was an irrevocable trust in which he was a beneficary he assets most likely will be safe fom all of his debts.

Discuss this with an estate attorney.

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