Must you always go to court to receive your inheritance under a trust? For example, say that you’re the 50% beneficiary of a Trust, but the Trustee refuses to distribute your assets to you. It’s been three years since your Mom or Dad passed away and there’s no reason for your sibling, the Trustee, to be retaining the trust assets. They could be spending these assets on themselves. Or maybe they’re treating these assets as if they own the entire trust when you’re the rightful owner of half the assets. In any event, your share of the trust should be distributed out to you and that’s not happening.
Why Court is Necessary
Clients often say: “can’t we just tell a judge this has to happen,” so we don’t have to file anything in court? “Can we write the judge a letter?” What can you do to get these Trust assets? Unfortunately, the answer is you do need to go to court, and you cannot just write a letter to the judge. Anytime you ask the court for help, you are required to follow the legal procedures established under the California Code of Civil Procedure, the California Probate Code, the California Evidence Code, the California Rules of Court, and California case law. In other words, it’s not so easy to ask the court for help. You must file a petition in the proper court, serve that petition on the proper parties, and follow the rules established for the type of request you are making.
But all this effort may be your only chance of receiving a proper trust distribution in some cases. Especially in light of a set of facts where you’ve been the beneficiary of a Trust for more than three years and your sibling’s refusing to make a trust distribution to you. You either seek court intervention or the trustee can continue their abuse of your inheritance.
We’d like to think we still live in an era where letters work, or phone calls work, or persuasion works. It doesn’t for most cases. We’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and we can think of only one time where a letter from us to a trustee worked to obtain a full trust distribution. In most cases, a bad trustee will simply ignore a letter from a lawyer. So, we generally want to send one letter to just see if that will work. It almost always does not. We then file a petition with the Probate Court and seek court intervention to force a proper trust distribution. Help can be found in the court system, but it takes time and effort to secure that help in your Trust case.