Can a Beneficiary Stop the Sale of a Property in California?

When you are the beneficiary of a trust or estate, the trustee or executor has a responsibility to act in your best interest. But it can feel like they are not doing so if, for example, they try to sell a property in the trust or estate from which you’re receiving income. It is common to ask, Can a beneficiary stop the sale of a property in California? And we are here to answer this question for you because it can be complex. 

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless beneficiaries enforce their probate rights and successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements and trial verdicts for clients. Learn when you can and cannot stop the sale of a property.

Can a Beneficiary Stop the Sale of Property in California?

Usually, a beneficiary can’t stop the sale of a property, but there are some exceptions. A beneficiary can only stop the sale of a property if a few specific conditions exist. 

If the executor or trustee is selling property under fair market value, the executor or trustee is profiting in some way from the sale, or acting in bad faith and not fulfilling their fiduciary duties, a beneficiary can petition to stop the sale. 

For example, if the will or trust explicitly states that the property should be rented out or doesn’t mention selling at all, a beneficiary could have the right to stop its sale.

Another situation could be the executor or trustee selling the property to themselves at a discounted price, to someone else for less than it is worth, or selling it to their spouse and profiting off of it as a result, which is a conflict of interest. In these situations, beneficiaries can work with an attorney to stop the sale. 

Also, if the property is set to be distributed specifically to you or you will have joint ownership of a property with other beneficiaries, this may give you the right to stop the sale as well by refusing to sign the necessary paperwork. Still, only an attorney can determine if you have a case.

“Essentially, whether or not you have the right as a beneficiary to stop the sale of a property boils down to whether or not the executor or trustee is breaching their duty. If they are, then an expert attorney can prevent or even reverse the damage this violation causes in court. However, if they are selling the property per the will or trust terms, to fulfill their duty of keeping the trust profitable, or because there are outstanding estate or trust debts they have to pay by selling assets, this is a different story. Regardless, working with an attorney is always crucial because, in many situations, a suspicious sale of property is a red flag and the symptom of a larger issue you need to address.”

Abbas K. Gokal, Partner, Gokal Law Group

Related Article: California Probate Law: Selling Property Without Beneficiary Consent

Is a Trustee Selling Property They Don’t Have the Right to? We Can Enforce Your Beneficiary Rights!

Can a beneficiary stop the sale of a property in California? If the trustee is violating their fiduciary duty in doing so, or you have joint ownership of the property with other beneficiaries, you may have the right to stop its sale. Ultimately, only a seasoned attorney can evaluate your case, determine if you have this right, and help enforce it.

Visit our Contact Page to schedule a free consultation and enforce your rights. 


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