Trustee Not Doing His Job

What if the TRUSTEE won’t tell us what’s going on?

The trustee must keep the beneficiaries informed about the trust and its administration.  If you make a reasonable request for information, the trustee must give you a report about the assets, liabilities, receipts and disbursements of the trust, what the trustee has done, money paid to the trustee, any agents hired by the trustee, their relationship to the trustee and any pay they received, and information about your interest, including a copy of the trust.

If you waived (gave up) your right to information, you can withdraw your waiver in writing and get the most recent report and all future reports.  If it has been 60 days or more since your written request for a report, or 6 months since your oral request, and the trustee hasn’t given you a report, you can file a petition to ask the Court to make the trustee file a report. Even if the trust itself says the trustee does not have to give you a report, the Court can make the trustee give you a report if you show that the trustee may have violated his/her duties.

If the trust is revocable, or if you waived in writing your right to a report, or if the trustee and the beneficiary are the same person, the trustee does not have to provide information unless the trust document says s/he must.

What if the TRUSTEE isn’t doing his job?  

The Court can remove a trustee and make the trustee pay the beneficiaries for any loss to the trust. Sometimes the Court will remove the trustee or suspend the trustee’s powers while the case is pending if there is reason to believe the beneficiaries’ interests are at risk.

Some trust documents say the trustee will be liable only for willful misconduct or gross negligence. But, California law is more strict, and the Court can remove a trustee for any of the following reasons:  

  • Breach of trust;
  • Trustee has more debts than assets or otherwise unfit to act as trustee;
  • The trust cannot be administered because of hostility or lack of cooperation between co-trustees;
  • The trustee does not want to be the trustee;
  • The trustee’s payment is excessive;
  • The law says some people must be disqualified from serving as a sole trustee. The people who cannot serve as a sole trustee are listed in Probate Code Section 21350.

The beneficiary has 3 years from the date of receiving the trustee’s report to ask the Court to remove the trustee.  See California Probate Code Section 17200.


Source: Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

Harrison K. Long – Business Solutions and Advisory – REALTOR® and broker associate, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – 949-854-7747  (phone) –  CA DRE 01410855 –

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