A beneficiary is a person or legal entity designated to receive assets from a trust or estate. Beneficiaries receive property or liquid assets after a person’s death or according to the terms of a trust. As a beneficiary, you have certain rights. If you believe your rights as a beneficiary were violated, you should talk with a California estate-planning attorney about your legal options.
Who Notifies Me That I Am a Beneficiary of a Trust?
A trustee is required by law to notify beneficiaries of a trust upon the settlor’s death. The settlor is the person who created the trust. The trustee has 60 days from the settlor’s death to provide the notification to the beneficiaries. The notification by the trustee must contain:
- The settlor’s identity
- The trust’s formation date
- The name, address, and telephone number of the trustee
- The address of the physical location where the trust is administered
- Any other information that the trust requires the trustee to provide to beneficiaries
- Notification that the beneficiary is entitled to a complete copy of the terms of the trust upon reasonable request to the trustee
If a trustee refuses to produce a copy of the terms of the trust or you believe the copy of the terms is not accurate and complete, you should contact an attorney immediately. The time to contest the trust is generally limited to 120 days from the date of the notification from the trustee, if the trustee includes a copy of the trust with the notice.
What Happens if the Trustee Does Not Notify Me?
Upon the filing of a will with the probate court, the will becomes a matter of public record. You can obtain a copy of the full will from the court.
California Probate Code §8200 generally requires the custodian of a will to deliver the will to the superior court for the county in which the decedent resided within 30 days after the person’s death. If the custodian is not the executor or personal representative named in the will, the custodian is also required to deliver a copy of the will to the executor or personal representative named in the will. If the personal representative’s whereabouts are unknown to the custodian, the custodian is required to give a copy of the will to a beneficiary named in the will, if the whereabouts of the beneficiaries are known to the custodian.
If a custodian refuses to file the will with the court, you can file a petition with the court demanding that the custodian produce the will.
Contact a California Estate-Planning Attorney for Help
Estate and trust matters can be complicated. Deadlines for filing contests and other petitions may be short. It is best to consult a California estate-planning attorney as soon as possible if you believe you are being denied information or property that your are entitled to receive as a beneficiary of a trust or estate. Talk with our California estate planning attorneys today.