Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

I live in California and my mother died Aug, 2010. My brother & I are the sole beneficiaries to the trust which my brother is trustee and he does not speak to me. By law, was my brother to file an accounting of the trust to the courts and/or me at the 1 year mark of her death (aug, 2011). The property she owned was finally sold on Feb 5, 2012 and now I am being told no money will be distributed to me until I sign off on the accounting and yet there is no accounting and I am being told since it is tax season, it will probably be another couple of months? Please give me some advice

Asked on 4/03/12, 12:27 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Jennifer Rouse Meissner Joseph & Palley

Your brother as trustee cannot condition your distribution on you waiving an accounting. You should demand an accounting and then contact an attorney if one is not provided within 60 days of your demand. It is at that time that you can file a petition with the probate court compelling your brother to account and to distribute.

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Answered on 4/03/12, 12:37 pm

Michele Cusack Pollak & Cusack

You might have to file a petition as Ms. Rouse suggested, but there is a possibility that if you let your brother, and his lawyer if there is one, know that you understand what he is requesting is improper, he might be willing to make a preliminary distribution to avoid going to court. (It is understandable that he wouldn't want to make the final distribution without approval of the accounting, but he can't ask you to approve it without seeing it!) It is not uncommon for trust accounts to be delayed, esp with "amateur" trustees, and it is true that accountants don't have time to work on them for the month before April 15th. But, if you don't believe your brother is acting in good faith, get a lawyer asap. And either way, certified mail the demand in writing for an accounting right away.

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Answered on 4/03/12, 1:06 pm
Donald Field Donald L. Field, Jr., Attorney at Law

you should retain a qualified attorney to represent you, protect your rights as a beneficiary, and ensure that the trust is administered properly by your brother.

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Answered on 4/05/12, 9:23 am
Bruce Givner Givner & Kaye, A Professional Corporation

There is no requirement that you sign off on the accounting before receiving a distribution as a beneficiary. It is certainly a long time after August, 2012, to wait to receive an accounting of the first year. So request the accounting in writing, certified, return receipt requested. Wait two weeks, send a repeat demand. If no response, then file a petition in the Probate Court asking for the accounting. Of course, you should hire a competent attorney to file the petition. Note that you should not wait long as the insolvency of the state of California is causing a slowdown in an already lengthy probate court process.

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Answered on 3/25/13, 3:53 pm

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