A Successor Trustee must follow all the provisions in the actual Trust document. However, a California Trustee must also follow the rules and procedures mandated by the California Probate Code. The following are some of the most common pitfalls that get Trustees into Trouble.
Failing to serve the required Notice to Beneficiaries AND heirs-at-law
Whenever a Trust becomes irrevocable, or there is a change in Trustees of an irrevocable Trust, the Trustee must send out notice pursuant to Probate Code § 16061.7. Failure to give timely notice or no notice at all can open the Trustee up for personal liability as well as allow for any beneficiaries or heirs-at-law to contest the trust for a prolonged period.
Failing to Account
Some Trust documents waive all accounting and thus a Trustee may believe that he or she is not required to provide any accounting. However, under California law a Trustee must account at least annually and any waiver of such accounting is against public policy.
Failing to Act Impartially
Trustee must act impartially among all the beneficiaries of a Trust. Favoring one beneficiary over another may result in a breach of fiduciary duty.
Failing to Keep Trust Assets Separate
A Trustee must manage an estate completely separate from the Trustees own personal assets. Trust accounts have their own EINs and must be vested in the name of the Trust, not the Trustee individually.