When are Living Trust beneficiaries entitled to accountings from the trustee?

Here is a question recently posed to me on Avvo.com.  My answer was selected as Best Answer by the questioner, and I provide it to you.

Q. As beneficiary of a California Trust Agreement now supporting my mother, am I entitled to an accounting?  I co-signed the original Trust Agreement (“Trust Estate”) as a beneficiary.  I suspect mismanagement of the trust, or worse. The trustees have refused to send me the latest version of the Trust Agreement and the latest accounting of the Trust.

A. If the trust is still revocable, the trustee has no duty to account to you. If the trust has become irrevocable, however, then according to California Probate Code Section 16061:

“…on reasonable request by a beneficiary, the trustee shall provide the beneficiary with a report of information about the assets, liabilities, receipts, and disbursements of the trust, the acts of the trustee, and the particulars relating to the administration of the trust relevant to the beneficiary’s interest, including the terms of the trust.”

This may be modified by the trust document itself, but to avoid an accounting they will have to prove that the trust waives the duty to account.

It sounds as if the trustee will not take you seriously without an attorney on your side. I suggest you contact one to speak on your behalf, and to remind the trustees of the potential they will be held personally liable for breaches of trust.

Good luck!