I get calls every week from California Trust, Last Will, and Estate beneficiaries complaining that they can’t get their brother or sister, who is the Trustee and Executor of their parents’ estate plan, to provide copies of the parents’ estate plan after the parents have died.

I usually suggest the following. First, send a letter to the Trustee and Executor politely requesting the entire Trust, including amendments, and Last Will for both parents. Include the following language in the letter: 

A.         Please Provide True Copy of California Will

Under California Probate Code Section 8200, you, as Executor of Mom’s and Dad’s estates, are required to deliver mom’s and dad’s Last Wills to the County Superior Court where mom and dad died within 30 days of mom’s and dad’s respective deaths. Please note, if I am damaged by your failure to deliver moms’ and dad’s Last Wills to the Superior Court you will be liable for my damages. (See Probate Code section 8200(b).)

As you are required to deliver the Wills to the Superior Court, you should have no objection in providing me with true copies at this time. If you do not provide me with a true copy of the Wills I will have no choice but to file a petition in the Probate Court requesting the Court to order you to provide me with true copies of the Wills. Please note, if I’m forced to file a petition, I will request that the Court order you to pay for the attorneys’ fees and costs associated with my petition. I hope I am not required to file a petition and you will simply provide me with true copies of the Wills on or before DATE. 

B.         Please Provide True Copy of California Trust

Under California Probate Code Section 16061.7, you, as Trustee of Mom’s and Dad’s Trust, are required to provide all beneficiaries of the Trust and all of Mom’s and Dad’s heirs with a true copy of the Trust documents, including any amendments, 60 days after Mom’s and Dad’s respective deaths.

As you are required to provide Mom’s and Dad’s Trust after 60 days of their respective deaths you should have no objection in providing me with true copies of the Trust, and any amendments, at this time. If you do not provide me with a true copy of Mom’s and Dad’s Trust, and any amendments, I will have no choice but to file a petition in the Probate Court requesting the Court to order you to provide me with a true copy. Please note, if I’m forced to file a petition, I will request that the Court order you to pay for the attorneys’ fees and costs associated with my petition. I hope I am not required to file a petition and you will simply provide me, as an heir and/or beneficiary of the Trust, a true copy of the Trust, and any amendments, on or before DATE.

If you include the above-referenced language in your letter to the Trustee, more times than not you will be successful in getting the Trustee to turn over the Trust and Will documents.

If the Trustee still refuses to provide the Will and Trust, then you must seek help from the Probate Court to force the Trustee and Executor to hand over these documents. I will explain in a future post how you get the Court’s help for obtaining these documents. 

  • Joseph Sanchez

    My father passed away but my Mother is still alive. Am I still entitled to a copy of trust?

  • Joseph Sanchez

    Am I entitled to a copy of the estate if my Dad passed away but my Mother is still alive?

    • davidsonkeitha

      Yes, you are entitled to a copy of your dad’s Will or any Trust that has become irrevocable as a result of your dad’s death. You can demand a copy of those and then file a petition in court if the documents are not provided to you within 60 days of your written request to see them.

  • Russel Ray Photos

    You write, “Under California Probate Code Section 8200, you, as Executor of Mom’s and Dad’s estates, are required to deliver mom’s and dad’s Last Wills to the County Superior Court where mom and dad died.”
    Is that necessarily true because Section 8200 doesn’t say “where ________ died.” it says “Deliver the will to the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the estate of the decedent may be administered.” That, I would think, allows for a person to be traveling in another county, state, or even country but have the will administered where the person lived.

    • davidsonkeitha

      You are correct, I should have said in the county where mom and dad resided at the time of their deaths. That manes to file in the county of residence regardless of where the actual place of death occurred.

  • Jessica Gomez

    What documents am I entitled to if I was named beneficiarie of 2 trusts and I have not received any paperwork since the deceased passed away 10 months ago. As far as I know I’m entitled to a certain percentage of all assets but the trustee has not given me or showed me a copy of the trusts or anything at that. I want to write the trustee requesting all the documents I’m entitled to but I would like to know what exactly to ask for. I live in California. Any information will help, thank you.

    • davidsonkeitha

      Under Probate Code 16061 and the following section you are entitled to a copy of the Trust, and wills, and any other information required to inform you of the Trust assets, such as bank statements, financial statements, copies of real property deeds or escrow closing statements if the real property was sold. Basically, the Trust documents and financial documents should be an open book for you to review.

  • Paul Siegel

    What do California laws and statutes say about providing financial details of the Trusts managed by the trustee? Do beneficiaries have the right to regular inspection of the books and records, including bank statements?

    • davidsonkeitha

      Yes, beneficiaries have a right to see all financial documents of a Trust. You can request an accounting as well, but you also have the right to view trust financial documents.

      • celina

        Is there a time period that they must show the documents? We hired a lawyer but were only given a copy of the will and nothing else even though our lawyer requested the financial documents. The trust lawyer was notified of my Mother-in-laws death a month before we sent out the request for the information. Are we expecting too much to fast? We have already put out 1500.00 to pay a lawyer just to get a copy of the will, which is ridiculous since it is something my husband is legally entitled to since he is a beneficiary, and now our lawyer wants to charge us again to file more papers because were weren’t given all the papers we requested. Since my husband is a beneficiary does the trust lawyer have to answer his question that he has about his inheritance and request the papers. We can’t afford to keep putting money out to pay for everything this lawyer is suppose to be doing. We live in another state so it isn’t feasible for us to go to the court and file papers on our own.

        • davidsonkeitha

          Under the California Probate Code (section 17200) the Trustee ha 60 days in which to provide you the information you are requesting. Unfortunately, there are times when a Trustee simply ignores a request for information. In those cases, you have to file a petition in court and ask for an order directing the Trustee to comply. There is no other way to force the Trustee to act. You are correct that the Trustee is required to provide information, but when he or she refuses to do so, your only recourse is taking them to court.

  • Ron

    My sister is the trustee of my father estate and refuses to give me a copy of the trust. She has block me from calling her and will not communicate with me. There are two other beneficiaries who have not received there copies or any information. My sister claiming most of my father belonging and we have no say so according to her. Her husband and son threaten me on the day of my father funeral and told everyone this house is no longer my home and everything now belongs to my sister and I’m not longer welcome here. I’m am entitled to 1/3 of everything my father own but my sister seems to have her own agenda. Can I take her to court and have her removed as the trustee.

    • davidsonkeitha

      Based on the facts you have here, yes you can take the Trustee to court and seek removal. You can also ask the court to order her to provide you with a copy of the trust, a copy of all trust financial documents, and an order for instructions to have her make a proper distribution of the trust funds. There is quite a bit you can do, but you have to go to court to get it done.

  • MQJ

    Is there any way to request a copy of the will or trust from the superior court if the trustee still refuses to provide these documents? Also, can a trustee go after a beneficiary for debt that was owed to creditors if the trust has the funds to pay all debts?

    • davidsonkeitha

      One your first point, yes you can file a petition to compel the Trustee to hand over the documents you are entitled to. It is not as easy as going to court and asking for the documents, you have to actually draft a petition, file it with the court, and wait for your hearing date. But you can take actions to receive a copy of the documents.

      A Trustee can go after a beneficiary to pay any enforceable debt that the beneficiary owes to the Trust. A Trustee cannot go after a beneficiary IF the beneficiary does not owe the Trust any money. Just because the Trust has creditors to pay does not mean the beneficiary has to give money to the Trust.

      • MQJ

        Thank you Kindly, this pretty much answers my questions.

  • George Hodges

    Re: Irrovocable Living Trust filed in California 2002. My father and my step-mom. My father named my sister Trust Manager. When she past I was to to assume that position. It was somehow past to my other sister who passed a couple of years later. My step-mom was talked into making my brother-in-law the Trust Manager. Over the past 6-7 years I asked my brother-in law if he was representing our family as the T.R. His answer was he did not know. Bottom line my 3 nephews and I have a copy of the original Trust, however have not been able to get any changes. My mother-in-law past 12/17/2016 and my step-mother’ sons and daughter have started rifling through the home for claimed personal property, and after several attempts to discuss this issue we are unable to get either Trust Manager’s to respond. Can you recommend an appropriate letter request to send these Trust Manager? I would appreciate any assistance you can provide.
    Left in the dark,
    George Hodges

    • davidsonkeitha

      All you need to do is send them a list of what you want to see in writing. There is no special language, just ask to see the trust document, all changes to the trust document, all financial account statement relating to the trust, and a list of real estate with addresses. This is all information you are entitled to see. If they do not provide you with the requested information within 60 days, then you have to file a petition to compel them to act in the Probate Court. Hope this helps.

  • Kim Mcc

    Thank you so much for this letter!!!!!!!!!!!! Excellent for you to provide it!!!!!!!!!

  • shauna

    Need to know by Monday, should /can I file a petition for proof of “Last will & Living Trust” EVEN IF THE ESTATE IS NOT GOING THREW PROBATE !! ALSO NO WILL WAS FOUND as far as I know !

    • davidsonkeitha

      Not sure what you are asking here. If you mean a Petition for Probate, you can file that type of petition even if there is no Will; in fact that is how you probate an intestate estate (which means an estate with no will). There is no petition for proof of living trust, but there are other type of petitions that deal with trust issues.

  • Leanani Franks

    Awesome just what I was looking for
    Mother died last week and I can’t get any information about the will or the trust
    MyMoms husband knew he was dying and got my Mom who had dementia to sign papers making his daughter her POA of the health but she is playing nasty games and is saying it’s all hers she has locked up their house and won’t take my calls and I don’t know what to do or who to get information from.

  • Doma

    Do I have the right to get a copy of my wife’s mother’s trust? My wife received a letter in the mail from her brother about obtaining trust information. But my wife passed away four years ago.The information in the letter is addressed to her. Do I have any rights to obtain the information? It would be greatly appreciated if someone could answer.

    Sincerely,

    Dominique

    • davidsonkeitha

      It depends on the circumstances. If you were named as a beneficiary in the Trust, then you would have a right to it. If you have minor children, and they would receive your wife’s share of the Trust, then you can request a copy of it on behalf of your children. And finally, if you are entitled to your wife’s estate, and your wife’s estate included her share of the Trust, then you could obtain a copy of the Trust. There could be other scenarios as well, but those are the most obvious three. In other words, you have to have some beneficial interest in the Trust. It is a difficult question to answer completely without knowing more facts.

  • Ralph Hauser

    I need help desperately and avoid attorney rip offs!

    -My dad dies (who left a significant amount of money)

    -A year after, my mom and I went to see my dads trust attorney and 3 irrevocable trusts were to go in effect the day of his death.

    -My mom gets a boyfriend 3 years later who is a fraudster and our relationship deteriorated and I moved out.

    -After that, I found a trust attorney to request a copy.

    -2 or 3 months later, I get a response that my dad only had 1 living trust with no amendments from 1996!

    -I recently got a new computer and my mom used to use my email during that time. I discovered the tax records for the 3 irrevocable trusts and even discovered endless emails of the accountant, boyfriend, and herself conspiring and using my 5 siblings to conspire with her!

    -My Trust attorney was in shock when he saw this newly discovered information that 100% proves that they lied and conspired and this was now criminal and beyond his field.

    -What do I do now?! Help! Please!
    Thank you in advance!

    • davidsonkeitha

      You need to take action in court. If the Trust required various subtrusts to be created after you dad died, then you should be able to enforce the trust terms by bringing a trust lawsuit in court. As for the criminal aspect, you cannot bring criminal charges yourself. You would need to report the facts to law enforcement and they (along with the District Attorneys’ office) would have to decide whether or not to bring criminal charges.