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Relieving a Trustee of Liability - Voluntary vs. Conditional

As a beneficiary, you may not be aware of the legal protections you have under the Probate Code.

One of these protections outlined in section 16004.5, subdivision (a) provides that, “A trustee may not require a beneficiary to relieve the trustee of liability as a condition for making a distribution or payment to, or for the benefit of, the beneficiary, if the distribution or payment is required by the trust instrument.”

While the code does allow the trustee to ask a beneficiary to voluntarily relieve them of liability, if the trustee in any way asks you to sign away your right as a condition of receiving the portion of the estate that you are entitled to, they are in violation of this section of the Probate Code. It is very important to understand this because if you voluntarily relieve the trustee of liability and receive a final asset distribution, you may not be able to file a claim against the trustee if additional assets are discovered in the future that had not been accounted for originally.

Consider consulting with a professional Estate Administration Attorney if a trustee has asked you to relieve them of liability. A professional can help you maintain an accurate accounting of estate assets and advise you of the best course of action.

ref: Bellows v. Bellows - filed June 9, 2011, First District, Div. Three
Cite as A128875

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be constituted as professional legal advice.

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