Legal Question in Legal Malpractice in California

My Dad created a revocable trust leaving my sister and I as the only two named beneficiaries. The trust became irrevocable when dad passed away 6 years ago. The trust instructed that two SEPARATE TRUSTS were supposed to be created, one for me and one for my sister, using the assets my Dad left in his original trust to fund each separate trust.

The trust attorney that drafted dad's original, signed, Will & Revocable trust for him when he was alive, changed the wording used in the trust AFTER he died...instead of creating two SEPARATE Trusts, she created two SUB-TRUSTS. (taking over 4 years to distribute anything to fund them with, and the in meantime her firm racked up over $180,000 in trust attorney and trustee's fees- the entire estate was only worth 2.5 million to begin with.)

My ex-attorney claimed the words "SUB" and "SEPARATE" means the same thing in trust & estate law, but I do not believe that is true.

Isn't a "SEPARATE" TRUST the opposite of what a "SUB"-TRUST is?

(I had to fire my ex-attorney after I found out he was arrested by the DA's office for felony embezzlement on a different case from mine. His arrest has forced me to question everything he did on my case.)

Asked on 7/07/22, 11:49 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

It is impossible to give an interpretation of a legal document from a few words out of context. Sub and separate may be one and the same thing or different depending on the instructions as to what was to be set up and what was set up. The question isn't one of language but rather did the trusts set up conform to the settlor (your dad)'s actual intent. It also may be a "distinction without a difference" unless what was done and what was intended are in fact different AND it caused some negative result, such as unfavorable tax consequences.

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Answered on 7/08/22, 3:58 pm

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