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.

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.

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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.

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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References

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How to Create a Legal Trust

A trust is a legal instrument that is useful for tax and estate planning. Under a trust arrangement, a trustee manages assets you transfer to the trust for the benefit of beneficiaries you select. You retain only indirect control over trust assets – the trustee must dispose of the assets as you direct in the trust deed that creates the trust. A trust is fairly simple to create, although it is prudent to have a lawyer look over the trust deed before you sign it.

How to Dissolve Being a Trustee

Absent a court order, a person cannot be compelled to act as a trustee. Even if a person accepts the position of trustee, unforeseen circumstances may prevent that person from carrying out the duties of trustee. Trust documents almost always address the issue of a trustee’s resignation. Absent an express resignation provision, consult with an attorney to determine your resignation rights under state law. In most cases, a written resignation letter delivered to the next trustee listed in the trust and to the person who created the trust is required.

How to Terminate an Irrevocable Trust

With a trust, you transfer assets to a legal entity set up to shelter your estate from the probate process. A trust allows you to control who will inherit your property after your death and give instructions to a trustee on how to manage that property. Although an irrevocable trust, in theory, cannot be changed or cancelled, there are ways to close down the trust and, if you wish, transfer assets to a new one. If the trust no longer serves the purpose for which it was set up, you may revoke it or draw up amendments that substantially change its terms. In most cases, this process will be subject to review by the courts to ensure that the beneficiaries retain the rights they were granted in the original trust.

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