What can I do if a Trustee is breaching their duties?

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What can I do if a Trustee is breaching their duties?

My brother is the trustee of our family Trust, of which my parents’ house is a part. It says in the Trust that we are to equally divide the selling of the house between my brother and my 2 sisters and I. They have done everything behind my back, and the house is about to be sold (I believe he is giving) the house to my sister’s son and I will get nothing from it. I know this has to be a breach of trust, I have no money for a lawyer, is there any advise you can give me or tell me what kind if paper I could file with the court.

Asked on June 5, 2015 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You really do need an attorney if at *all* possible, because while there is a legal recourse for you, filing an action in chancery court for breach of fiduciary duty and to compel an accounting of the trustee's actions is not like filing a small claims law suit--it is much more technical and complex.

That said, if you truly can't afford and attorney, you can file you own legal action. The trustee has a fiduciary duty (an obligation imposed by law) to all of the beneficiaries and is required to obey the terms of the trust--he has no discretion or right to not do this. As a beneficiary, you can file a legal action asking the court to look  into his actions as trustee and forcing him to account for them, according to the trust terms and his duty. Contact the clerk of the county surrogate's court, tell the clerk what is happening, and ask the clerk to point you to forms, instructions, and court rules for filing a legal action.


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