Trustee Notification Provisions
“Trustee Notification” is a frequently violated provision of California law. ATDS receives many requests for restatements of trusts that, upon investigation, reveal that a surviving spouse is attempting to change provisions of the irrevocable portion of the trust without having notified any beneficiaries or heirs of the deceased spouse. (Often, he or she has not even made the division required by the trust document— but that’s another article.)
Since January 1, 1998, California Probate Code Sections 16061.7 has required that the trustee of a revocable living trust has a duty to report certain information and to account to current beneficiaries and other heirs when a trust, or portion of a trust, becomes irrevocable.
The trustee "shall provide a true and complete copy of the terms" of any trust or portion thereof that becomes irrevocable "because of the death of one or more of the settlors of the trust,” or whenever there is a change of trustee of an irrevocable trust, to "each beneficiary
of the irrevocable trust” and “each heir of the deceased settlor.”
Section 16061.9 (a) and 16061.9 (b) spell out the penalties for failure to serve notification:
(a) A trustee who fails to serve the notification by trustee as required by Section 16061.7 on a beneficiary shall be responsible for all damages, attorney's fees, and costs caused by the failure unless the trustee makes a reasonably diligent effort to comply with that section.
(b) A trustee who fails to serve the notification by trustee as required by Section 16061.7 on an heir who is not a beneficiary and whose identity is known to the trustee shall be responsible for all damages caused to the heir by the failure unless the trustee shows that the trustee made a reasonably diligent effort to comply with that section. For purposes of this subdivision, "reasonably diligent effort" means that the trustee has sent notice by first-class mail to heir's last mailing address actually known to the trustee.
If you want more detail, would like a copy of the law itself, or see our sample notification letter, just click on this link:
www.attorneystrust.com/resources.htm and click on “Trustee Notification Code”. We also include information on Trustee Notification and a sample letter to be used by future Trustees, in the Instructions pages of our trust binder.