Beneficiary Might Be Deceased? California Trustees, Take these Steps

Occasionally, trustees who are beginning the California trust administration process have difficulty locating the beneficiaries of the trust. Since the trust may have been created many years before the decedent’s passing, there is a chance that the missing beneficiary may be deceased. A trustee should never rely on an assumption that this is the case, however. Trustees have a duty to provide notice to the beneficiaries, as well as provide various items of information about the trust and the trust administration process. Fortunately, a knowledgeable Anaheim trust lawyer can help guide you through the process of properly handling a possibly deceased beneficiary of a trust.

What should you do if you think the beneficiary of the California trust might be deceased? Consider taking the following actions:

  • Contact an experienced Anaheim trust attorney for guidance.
  • Obtain a copy of the trust instrument.
  • Attempt to obtain verification of the passing from other beneficiaries or from the loved ones of the beneficiary.
  • Hire a search firm to assist with your investigation.
  • Search available death records for the county where the beneficiary was last known to have lived.
  • Ask the probate court for permission to conduct the trust administration as if the beneficiary were deceased.
  • The court will thereafter make a determination as to whether the missing beneficiary is alive or deceased.
  • Ask the probate court for instructions.

Trustees are subject to the laws of California and should therefore be cautious before taking action in situations where a beneficiary is missing. Our office of experienced Anaheim trust attorneys can help ensure that you comply fully with all of your obligations. Contact us today at (714) 459-5481 for a consultation.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm
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