How to Obtain a Copy of a Living Trust in California

By Thomas King

A living trust is a means of transferring property to an individual or group of people. It is created by a person known as a settlor or grantor, who often acts as trustee, or manager of the trust, and names a successor trustee to manage and distribute the property in the trust upon his death. If you are a beneficiary named in the trust, you may want to obtain a copy of the living trust from the current trustee to see what property you are entitled to receive.

Step 1

Gather identifying documents, such as a passport and birth certificate.

Step 2

Determine whether the living trust is irrevocable, which means it cannot be changed. In most cases, a living trust becomes irrevocable when one or more of the persons who created the trust passes away. If the living trust is revocable, the trustee is not required to provide a copy of the trust.

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Step 3

Send a certified letter to the trustee(s) demanding a copy of the trust. Under California Law, you are entitled to a copy of an irrevocable trust if you are a beneficiary or heir of the settlor. In your demand letter, you should include your name, contact information, and basis for requesting a copy, such as your relationship to the settlor. If you anticipate there will be problems, you may also want to include a copy of the relevant law entitling you to a copy of the trust -- California Probate Code § 16061.5(a)(1) -- and the law imposing a duty on the trustee to furnish the copy -- California Probate Code § 16060.

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