I have posted many articles on the wrongful acts of bad trustees and I am just getting started on that subject. There is always more to write about.
I can’t help but notice that there is a general lack of understanding about the burden of beneficiaries as well. Legally speaking, beneficiaries of California Wills and Trusts do not have any legal obligations or duties to the Will or Trust estate. However, beneficiaries do have a duty that they must undertake to enforce their rights–the duty to take action.
A beneficiary of a California Trust or Will has rights. And an heir of a decedent who is disinherited may have rights, depending on the circumstances. But those rights lie dormant until you choose to make the effort to enforce them. Therefore, every beneficiary has a duty to take action to enforce their rights. No one is going to step in and make your life easy by enforcing your rights for you. You can take the Trust or Will matter to court, but the court’s role is supposed to be as a neutral trier of fact and law, it’s not there to help you assert your rights–that’s your job.
Of course, undertaking to enforce your rights is not easy. It takes time, money and an emotional toll as well. But when you’re dealing with a bad trustee or a bad situation, you have little choice but to stand up for yourself.
Many times I hear beneficiaries complain how having this burden to enforce their rights is hard, unfair, and it simply should not be this way. Trustees should do the right thing in the first place or siblings should be fair with trust distributions. Of courses all of those complaints are true and well founded, I agree. But complaining gets you nowhere. You alone have the burden to stand up and enforce your rights. The sooner you as a beneficiary accept this fact, the sooner you can move on and try to get something done.