Does a Trustee Have to Give a Beneficiary a Copy of the Trust?

By Beverly Bird

Rules regarding inheritances are some of the strictest in law. After all, they deal with your lifetime savings and the fruits of your labors. Passing your assets to others when you die is a somber and serious event. If you form a trust, your selected trustee should be someone willing and responsible enough to abide by the rules.

Initial Notice

The timing of your trustee's first notice to your beneficiaries depends on what kind of trust you've established. If the trust is revocable, the trustee would typically be your successor trustee, taking over the reins of the trust at the time of your death. If it's irrevocable, he steps in to assume control as soon as you establish the trust. In the case of a revocable trust, your trustee must immediately notify your beneficiaries of your death. If you form an irrevocable trust, he typically has a responsibility to let your beneficiaries know that the trust exists within a certain period of time after he accepts appointment. Specific time limits for giving notice depend on individual state laws.

Trust Documents

Revocable and irrevocable trust beneficiaries have a right to request copies of a trust's formation documents as well as any amendments when you die. Your beneficiaries usually will not receive this paperwork automatically – they must ask for it. Some states, such as California, have specific deadlines – such as 60 days – by which your trustee must respond to the request. With or without a deadline, the trustee is obligated by law to comply.

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