I receive several phone calls each week from upset Trust beneficiaries asking if their brother or sister, who is the Trustee of their parents’ Trust, is required to provide copies of the Trust to the beneficiary after both parents have died. The answer is—yes—Trustees are required under California law to provide copies of their parents’ Trust, and any Amendments to the Trust, to all Trust beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, Trustees refuse time and again to provide a copy of the Trust to the beneficiaries. Usually it’s a control thing, but it may also indicate that the Trustee has mismanaged the Trust assets (while their parents were still alive or after their deaths), or is attempting to hide Trust terms they may disagree with from the rightful Trust beneficiaries.

But California law is clear, requiring Trustees to provide notice when any portion of a Trust becomes “irrevocable” (a legal way of saying the Trust can no longer be changed because both parents are now deceased) to each beneficiary of the Trust within 60 days of the Trust becoming “irrevocable.” For example, if the last living parent dies on January 1, 2011, then the Trustee has 60 days from January 1, 2011 (until March 2, 2011) to provide notice to all Trust beneficiaries that the Trust is now irrevocable (i.e. can no longer be changed), and further that the Trust beneficiaries have a right to a copy of the Trust, and any Amendments to the Trust.

If the Trustee refuses to provide you with a copy of your parents’ Trust, let them know California law requires that they provide you with (i) notice that the trust is irrevocable, and (ii) true and complete copies of the Trust, and any Amendments to the Trust. If the Trustee still refuses to provide you with copies of the Trust and any Amendments, it’s time to see an attorney.