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Rocket Lawyer Family law

Ask a Lawyer: When a trustee isn’t doing their job

Every week we invite our guest attorneys to answer your legal questions on our Facebook page. This week, our guest attorneys fielded a question about estate planning, specifically, what happens a trust executor isn’t doing their job.

If you need any background, here it is: when you create a will or trust, you appoint a person or company to serve as your executor or trustee. These people are charged with carrying out your wishes (provided that they’re legal) as best as they possibly can. Sometimes, it doesn’t quite work out the way you might like. Here’s the exchange:

The executor of my father’s trust in California has not provided or offered any financials over the past 7 years, nor has the trust details been followed regarding the sale of the real property, despite repeated requests to honor the trust. Do I need to file a motion in the County where the trust and real property is located, or can it be made in any California County? To what extent may I claim damages and what repercussions and/or rulings could there be? -Randal E

Hopefully inaction is the only problem here, but since you don’t know the status of the estate, time may be of the essence.

Generally, the trustee (or executor) has a legal duty to keep the beneficiaries’ best interests in mind. If they’re not doing their job, there are a number of possible remedies  – from formally requesting an accounting of the trust, to taking steps to have them replaced, to paying damages if they’ve violated their duty to you. Since it’s been 7 years, you could be bumping up against the statute of limitations issues if you don’t act right away. Rather than trying to figure this out all yourself, the best idea is to talk to an attorney who specializes in estate planning or trust litigation so you can get a clear picture on what you need to do next. Usually you get a free consultation, so you can find out what’s involved before you commit to any fees. If you’d like, we can help you find an attorney here:

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