How to eliminate trustee and beneficiary communication issues

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2019 | Firm News

One of the largest issues that beneficiaries tend to have with a trustee is that the trustee may refuse to communicate with them. Many trustees abuse their position of power and think they aren’t required to relay crucial information to the beneficiaries about the trust.

As the settlor, you need to take precautions to ensure this problem doesn’t happen. Even though you chose someone you believe you can rely on to have control over the administration of your property, that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll have a good relationship with your beneficiaries. Here are some ways you can prevent these potential conflicts:

Outline the importance of communication in the trust

In California, trustees are required to “follow any written direction acceptable to the trustee given from time to time… by the person to whom the settlor delegates the right to direct the trustee.”

As the settlor, you can write down instructions that the trustee should follow to make sure the trust is settled smoothly. Inform them on how they should communicate with the beneficiaries (written statements are preferable since the beneficiary wouldn’t have to memorize the conversation), when they should talk and what should they talk about. The more specific you are, the less likely they’ll try to find a loophole out of this duty.

Talk to the beneficiaries about the process

Even though you will require your trustee to maintain stable communication with your beneficiaries, sometimes the beneficiaries are the hard ones to work with. Dealing with an estate can get controversial very quickly, to the point where one of your beneficiaries may be yelling at them if they don’t think they are getting what they deserve.

If you know one of your beneficiaries may have a problem staying in the same room as the trustee, remind them of their communication options. They could express their concerns in writing, allowing them to collect their thoughts in a more mature and controlled manner.

If the trustee continues to ignore them even if they have been reasonable in their behavior and efforts, then you need to remind them of their legal options in California. They can get the information they need from the banks or filing for probate court. You should also give them contact information to a local estate litigation attorney to make sure that they follow the necessary steps to acquire these crucial details properly.