How can I access a trust once I am of age but the trustee won’t cooperate?

I was given a set amount of money from my
grandfather. The money was put into a trust
and was not to be given to be until I was a
certain age. I am now that age but the trustee
will not tell me where the money is or who to
contact.

Asked on September 5, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

File a lawsuit against the trust and the trustee in chancery court (a part or division of county court); this is commonly called a lawsuit for an "accounting," since you are looking to make the trustee "account" for his/her actions. A trustee must comply with the terms of the trust and must also honor his/her law-imposed "fiduciary duty," or obligation to be loyal to the beneficiaries' interests and to also use reasonable care. If the trustee failed to do these things, the court can order the trustee to turn over money to the benefiary, to follow the terms of the trust, to repay from his/her own pocket any amounts he/she improperly took, diverted, or wasted, and/or to step down as trustee and be replaced by someone else. 
Suits in chancery court for an accounting are more complex than, say, a small claims suit over a "fender bender" or unpaid bill; you are strongly encouraged to retain an attorney to help you.


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