Can a trustee legally follow a grantor’s verbal wishes instead of the written terms of the Trust document?

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Can a trustee legally follow a grantor’s verbal wishes instead of the written terms of the Trust document?

The last living parent (now deceased) indicated verbally that they wanted significant amount of cash to be designated for one (not disabled) grandchild. This was never put in writing. The Trust splits the assets equally between the grantor’s children.

Asked on January 9, 2014 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

Nathan Wagner / Law Office of Nathan Wagner

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The trustee has to follow the written instructions in the trust. They cannot distribute the assets based upon the verbal instructions alone. Because the parent is gone now, the trustee would need instructions (in writing) from all of the other beneficiaries to make a gift to the grandchild. Then the trustee could make the gift. 


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