What can we do to verify that our minor child was left out of his mother’s Trusts?

My stepson’s mother passed away and we have been told by his half brother that my stepson, who is 16 ,was left out of the Trust. My husband has requested a copy of the Trust to verify this is true. We also attempted to set up a meeting so that an impartial attorney could review to verify he was left out of the Trust.

Asked on May 2, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If they will not share the trust documents/instrument with you, your husband, as your stepson's legal guardian, could file a lawsuit in chancery court (a part or division of county court) claiming that he believes (e.g. based on family relationships) that your stepson was in the trust but is being unlawfully excluded from it. The lawsuit would be filed against the trust and against the trustees--not personally, but in their capacity as trustees. In the course of the lawsuit, you will be able to use legal process (e.g. "discovery": written questions or interrogagories; document product requests) to get copies of all the trust documents. 
Obvously, you would only do this if they will voluntarily share the information/documentation with you. Such a suit can be procedurally complex, since it is not a common one and not streamlined for non-lawyers, the way small claims court is; you would be strongly advised to retain an attorney to help you.


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