California Trustee Discretionary Powers – Video

California Trustee Discretionary Powers – see the video immediately below, and the primary text for the video at the bottom of this post. Thank you. Please pass this information to other people who would be interested. Dave Tate

Text: California Trustee Discretionary Powers

Hello, I’m Dave Tate. I am a San Francisco litigation attorney and I handle cases throughout California in trust, estate, conservatorship, elder abuse and civil litigation, and I also represent fiduciaries and beneficiaries in administrations.

This discussion is about trustee discretionary powers. You can find additional information on my blog at

A trust will typically contain provisions that give the trustee discretionary powers, that is, the power to use his or her own judgment in specific circumstances. The courts will strictly construe the amount of the discretion from the language in the trust document and the intent of the trustor.

Be cautious, however—and this is important, even if the trust provides sole, absolute or uncontrolled discretion, courts still require the trustee to act within the fiduciary standards, to not self-deal, and to not act in bad faith or in disregard of the purposes and interests of the trust and of the beneficiaries. You can refer to Probate Code §§16080-81.

In other words, if the issue of a trustee’s discretion is presented to the court, the judge will make a determination based on his or her own evaluation of the trust, the trustor’s intent, and the circumstances at issue.

Unless limited by the terms of the trust, the trustee will also have other statutory powers. You should review the powers and limitations specified in the trust document, and also the powers listed at Probate Code §§16200-16249. These sections are important – however, they are too detailed to include in this discussion.

That’s it for now. There are of course other cases and statutes that can apply, and the facts of each situation are different. This discussion doesn’t constitute legal advice. You need to consult a lawyer or professional for your situation. You can find more information on my blog at Thanks for listening.

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco / California)