There are times when beneficiaries say that their trustee is claiming that the beneficiaries are harassing them. Whether it is harassment really depends on what the beneficiary is doing. If the beneficiary is asking for reasonable information such as accounting information and copies of trust financial records, none of that is harassment. Still, I’ve seen trustees try to say, “Well, you’re harassing me, because you’re asking me for all this stuff.” That’s not harassing, at least not in the legal sense. The trustee may feel harassed, but if that’s the case, he or she shouldn’t be a trustee because part of a trustee’s basic duty is to provide all of that information. If the trustee feels harassed, the trustee should not take the job.
There are times when, perhaps, a beneficiary may go too far such as making threats of physical violence or something along those lines. That’s not something that we see a lot of, but if that were to occur, then that would be an improper harassment of a trustee. You certainly shouldn’t make threats as a beneficiary. As a beneficiary, you have all of the rights provided by California trust law to enforce against the trustee. You may have to go to court to enforce those rights, but there’s no reason to make yourself look bad in front of the court when you don’t have any obligations or duties. Only the trustee has duties and obligations to fulfill.
As a beneficiary, you want the trustee to do the right thing. If the trustee doesn’t do the right thing, then you want to be able to go to court and show the judge. Let the trustee make himself or herself look terrible and then the court will be inclined to act and help you out and force the trustee to either do the right thing or remove the trustee altogether.
Most of the time, a request by a beneficiary is not harassment, no matter what the trustee may say.