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Who Will Oversee My Trustee? The answer may surprise you…

So who is in charge of overseeing your Trustee if that person chooses to violate the law and breach his or her fiduciary duties? Surely there is some governmental agency that will step in and hold that bad Trustee accountable…isn’t there?

The truth is that there is no governmental authority that oversees that acts of individual Trustees. There is some oversight of corporate Trustees, and private professional Trustees, but not individuals who are named to act as Trustee. Of course, you can always take your Trustee to court and ask the court to hold them accountable, but that requires YOU to take action, gather evidence, and act as both investigator and prosecutor of your own case.

Often, people think that what a Trustee is doing amounts to a criminal act. That is rarely the case. In fact, short of just taking the Trust money and running to Mexico, few acts of a Trustee qualify as being criminal. Instead, they are either a breach of fiduciary duty, which is a civil lawsuit brought by you (the beneficiary), or it is forgiven as a non-issue.

More importantly, there is no government agency that oversees Trustees on your behalf or forces Trustees to act appropriately. Instead, each individual Trustee is expected to act according to the Trust document and California Trust law, even though few private Trustees even know the true extent of their duties.

The bottom line to all of this: you must oversee your own Trustee. As a beneficiary, you are entitled to information, accountings, and to be treated fairly. If any of those items are amiss (or all of them), then you must take action in court to protect yourself. No one else is going to step in and help, you must take action to help yourself. That is what the probate court is there for, but it requires you to take action.