Does a Beneficiary Have a Right to See Financial Statements?

As a beneficiary, it can feel like trustees wield all the power, but know that probate law is on your side. Trustees have a legal obligation known as their fiduciary duty to maintain transparency and provide beneficiaries with information about how they are administering a trust. And as a beneficiary, you have a right to demand this information. Many beneficiaries wonder, Does a beneficiary have a right to see financial statements? This right is crucial to ensuring a trustee is not abusing or neglecting their position. 

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless beneficiaries enforce their rights and claim the inheritance they are entitled to when others try to steal it from them. Here’s what to know about your right to information and financial statements. 

Does a Beneficiary Have a Right to See Financial Statements?

As a beneficiary, you have a right to review a trust’s records, including bank statements, the checking account ledger, receipts, real estate sales agreements, escrow closing statements, and invoices. This transparency is vital to defending your inheritance. 

California trust beneficiary rights include the right to reasonable information regarding how a trustee is managing the trust. Probate Code section 16060 adds some more context when answering, Does a beneficiary have a right to see financial statements

A trustee’s fiduciary duty overlaps with this right because they must keep beneficiaries “reasonably informed” about the trust administration, which can include financial transactions made by the trustee on behalf of the trust. Further, you have the right to demand information if they fail to provide it. 

While the particulars of a demand can vary depending on the nature of the trust and circumstances surrounding administration, the information beneficiaries demand usually includes financial statements. 

Many beneficiaries also have the right to an accounting. Per Probate Code Section 16062, a trustee must account to certain beneficiaries. If a trustee refuses to show you financial statements, working with a trust litigation attorney as soon as possible is essential. 

A trustee withholding information related to the trust is a red flag that they are not upholding their duties or possibly abusing their station. Financial statements are often where you will first spot instances of self-dealing, a conflict of interest, or an even worse breach of fiduciary duty. 

“There is a distinction between financial statements and an accounting. An accounting is a formalized report of all trust transactions, such as expenses paid, income earned, and distributions made to trust beneficiaries, while financial statements are simply copies of transactions relating to a trust, such as receipts and bank statements. Both are valuable and can serve as centerpieces of litigation if a trustee is abusing or neglecting their station.”

– Andrew Micaraset, Associate, Gokal Law Group

Related Article: Trustee Duties in California: Keeping Beneficiaries Informed

Is a Trustee Violating Your Right to Information? Schedule a Consultation to Enforce Your Rights!

So, Does a beneficiary have a right to see financial statements? Yes. Not only do you have a right to see these statements, but you have the right to demand them, and a trustee must provide you with this information when you request it. If they refuse to do so, trust litigation often follows. Let us help in these situations. 

To enforce your rights and safeguard your inheritance, visit our Contact Page to schedule a free consultation. 


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