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A Trustee of a Revocable Trust Should Sue in his own Name (A trust is not a legal entity)

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2016 | Civil Procedure, Trusts Estates |


A common “mistake” is a party names the “Smith Family Trust” or if a probate, “Estate of Smith” as a party.  An estate is not a legal entity, it has neither the capacity nor the standing to sue and title to estate assets are held by the executor or administrator, who is the real party in interest. The administrator may therefore bring suit in his or her own name (please see Code of Civil Procedure §369(a)).  If an administrator brings suit in his or her own name, then the references to his or her capacity as administrator are not required. (See Lewis v. Adams, (1886) 11 P. 837, and Wise v. Williams (1887) 14 P. 204 Cal., and “under California law the “trust is not an entity separate from the trustees,” and “the trustee, rather than the trust, is the real party in interest in litigation involving trust property.” Moeller v. Superior Court (1997) 16 Cal. 4th 1124, 1132 n.3; 60 Cal.Jur.3d, Trusts § 355 (1994).