Beneficiary’s Petition To Compel A Trustee To Provide Information About The Trust Does Not Violate A “No Contest” Clause
Most estate planning trusts contain a provision providing that if a beneficiary contests the trust, that beneficiary is deemed to have died before the trustor. Under such circumstances, the beneficiary loses any right to receive any benefits from the trust. This type of provision is known as a “no contest” clause and will generally be enforced by the courts. In a recent decision, Salter v. Lerner, the California Court of Appeal made clear that a trust beneficiary’s petition to compel the trustee to provide information regarding the trust does not violate a no contest clause.
A trustee has a non waivable obligation to keep beneficiaries informed about the trust. Section 16060 of the California Probate Code provides that a trustee “has a duty to keep the beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.” The Salter court noted that the provisions of Section 16060 could not be waived. Accordingly, the court ruled that as a matter of public policy, the beneficiary’s petition to compel the trustee to comply with his obligation to provide reasonable information could not be held to violate the trust’s no contest clause.