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Understanding the notification responsibilities of a trustee

California heirs and trust beneficiaries may be interested in some information about the notification responsibilities that a trustee has in trust administration. These responsibilities can affect a beneficiary's rights to the property contained in the trust, making them important to understand.

Under the California Probate Code, a trustee who is tasked with administering an irrevocable trust must perform certain actions with regard to the trust. First, the trustee is required to provide the beneficiary with information about the terms of the trust. The only exceptions to this rule are when the trust is revocable or the trustee is the beneficiary.

The trustee is required to notify the trust beneficiary when certain events occur. These include a change in the identity of the trustee, the conversion of the trust from revocable to irrevocable, and when the trust creator's power of appointment becomes effective or lapses. This notification must adhere to certain requirements regarding to whom it is sent and what it contains. Each beneficiary is entitled to receive the notification, and the notification must contain identifying information and any information required by the trust itself.

If the trustee does not live up to these responsibilities, any legal action must be brought within 120 days of the date on the notification or within 60 days of the date that the trust terms are mailed. The failure of a trustee to adhere to these rules could allow the heirs to recover damages and attorneys' fees from the trustee. An attorney may be able to assist in matters where proper notification was not made or other trust issues. The attorney may also be helpful in other estate planning matters in order to preserve assets and a loved one's legacy, including the drafting of living will and trust documents.

Source: Official California Legislative Information, "PROBATE CODE SECTION 16060-16069," October 28, 2014

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