Do Beneficiaries Need to Be Notified of the Existence of a Trust?

Generally, after a revocable living trust is created and the creator(s) of the trust (also referred to as Trustor(s))  are still living, the trust is considered revocable by the Trustor and therefore there is no requirement that the beneficiaries be given copies of the trust at that time.

However, after the Trustor(s) pass away, the trust becomes irrevocable and under California Law, there is a requirement that all the beneficiaries of the now irrevocable trust as well as all the legal heirs of the decedent be provided with notice of the decedent's death as well as the existence of the trust (California Probate Code Section 16061.7).  At that point, any one of the legal heirs or beneficiaries may legally request a copy of the trust and the successor trustee will be obligated to provide a copy to them.

Beneficiaries are those individuals that are named or referenced within the trust document. Legal heirs are those relatives that California law considers to be the next in line for inheritance purposes in the event that the person passed away without an estate plan. Both groups of individuals must be given the notice, which we refer to as 16061.7 Notification . 

If you are the successor trustee of someone's trust and have been named to wind down the estate, please contact our office at (714) 459-5481 and one of our experienced estate planning attorneys will be happy to assist you in the next steps to winding down the trust and the estate.