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  • California trust law is very specific and detailed. Trustees must follow specific guidelines and procedures during the administration of a trust. One of those laws (California Probate Code Section 16002) requires that they administer the trust solely in the interest of the beneficiaries. They must also deal with each beneficiary impartially. So, can a California Trustee force a beneficiary to sign a release to get distribution?

    Photo of a Man with His Fingers Crossed Behind His BackTo understand California’s trust laws, you must first understand trusts. A trust is a document that establishes a third-party trustee to administer the assets of the trust. Yet, there are duties the trustee must adhere to. While they are often allowed to invest assets or distribute them to beneficiaries, this process can result in grievances. To avoid this, trustees may try to use various tactics to avoid lawsuits for breach of fiduciary duty. If the trustee does not follow the guidelines and rules set forth in the trust, litigation may arise.

    California Trust Law & Trustee Responsibilities

    A beneficiary has three years from the date of the breach of duty to file a claim. This is a long time. As such, trustees may want beneficiaries to sign releases to protect them from lawsuits. To force beneficiaries to sign these releases, some trustees give a final asset distribution as an incentive. However, California trust law does not give trustees the discretion to force such releases. These releases are not in the best interests of the beneficiaries and may violate California trust law.

    According to Probate Code section 16004.5(a) a trustee may not “require a beneficiary to relieve the trustee of liability as a condition for making a distribution or payment.” There are other ways trustees can avoid litigation. Even if a beneficiary is uncooperative, a trustee cannot force them to sign a release to get distributions. If the beneficiary is uncooperative, the California Superior Court can step in. The court can review and approve the trustee’s decisions and management of the trust.

    Trust litigation is complex and this area of law requires a law firm with extensive knowledge of California trust and estate laws. A California trust litigation attorney at Aslanian Law Firm, PC, can help you through this difficult time. Our attorney can help you determine if the administrator of the trust is doing their job according to California trust law. If there is wrongdoing or mismanagement, we can help you take the next steps.

    Our California Trust Litigation Attorney Can Help

    If you have questions about trust litigation or breach of fiduciary duty in California, we can help. Our California trust litigation attorney is here to answer your questions and provide legal guidance every step of the way. At Aslanian Law Firm, PC, we have the experience and resources needed to tackle even the most complex trust issues. Call us today at (626) 345-7210 or fill out our confidential contact form. Our Pasadena office serves families across the Greater Los Angeles area and beyond. We offer free consultations so you can learn more about our trust litigation services.

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