What are the conditions under which I can legally dissolve an irrevocable trust?

My grandmother the only mother I knew left me a very old home in San Francisco
that has cost so much money in property taxes and maintenance that it not only
drained the trust, but is now costing me money out of pocket to maintain.

The trust does not allow me to sell or encumber against the property so I feel
stuck. There are no liens against the property and I cannot just ‘walk’ from it.

What are my options?

Asked on May 6, 2016 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the home belongs to you, not the trust, you can sell it: even if that violates the terms of the trust, all that means is that you would be violating the trust's provisions and would not receive funds from it--but if the trust is drained, that should be irrelevant. Obviously, read the trust instruments (documents, etc. creating the trust) to make sure there's not some clause in there whereby the trust could try to sue you to get money back if you ever sell the house, but as a general matter, if the home is owned by you, not the trust, you can sell it.
And if the home is owned by the trust, you can walk away from funding it and let the municipality put a lien on it or foreclose on it for unpaid taxes.
"Poverty" is not a legal concept, and being poor does not allow you out of obligations, so it's unclear what this attorney met.


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