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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Estate Planning > Can A Beneficiary Also Be A Trustee In California?

Can A Beneficiary Also Be A Trustee In California?


A trustor/settlor/grantor may choose to set up a trust for various reasons, and the fact that a trust can be set up for many reasons is one of the things that makes this estate planning tool quite exciting. Generally speaking, a California trust can help a trustor accomplish nearly any goal they have with their estate. For instance, a trustor can create a trust to care for their minor children, benefit a charity, and/or provide for a surviving spouse. Another thing that makes this estate planning tool exciting is the fact that a trust brings flexibility when it comes to managing and distributing trust assets in the event of a grantor’s death or incapacity.

Trustees and Beneficiaries

A trustee is an individual who assumes the legal responsibility of the assets in a trust. The primary duty of a trustee is managing the assets in a trust and carrying out the purposes of the trust. Trustees generally oversee trust assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries.

Can a Beneficiary Also Be a Trustee?

So, can a trust beneficiary also be a trustee in the state of California? Yes. A trust beneficiary can also be a trustee in California. That means that one person can manage a trust and still benefit from it. A situation where a trust beneficiary also acts as a trustee can arise in a case where a trustee steps down, and the only individual available to replace them is a trust beneficiary. Also, sometimes, a trustor can simply choose to set up their trust this way.

Nonetheless, even though a beneficiary can be a competent trustee, that is not always the case. For example, a trustee who’s also a beneficiary may have a conflict of interest, especially if they are not the only beneficiary. In such a case, a trustee may decide to use trust assets for their benefit. Furthermore, sometimes, perception becomes reality. A trustee who’s also a beneficiary may act properly and follow all the laid down rules, only for them to be viewed as acting improperly because of a potential conflict of interest.

So, does this mean that a beneficiary should not be named as a trustee? Definitely not. Often, it all depends on the abilities of the beneficiary. If a beneficiary can avoid actual conflicts of interests, they may be able to do an excellent job as a trustee. Typically, a good trustee/beneficiary is one who knows their fiduciary duties and acts accordingly. If a trustee/beneficiary doesn’t know their duties, they cannot fulfill them.

All in all, the job of a trustee can be hard, and trustors should think long and hard before choosing trustees. Speaking to an estate planning attorney before deciding who to choose as a trustee is usually a good idea.

Contact The Probate Guy for Legal Help

If you need help creating a California trust, or choosing the right trustee, contact the experienced California estate planning attorney Robert L. Cohen of the Probate Guy.


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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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