California trust law and procedure is pretty straightforward as set forth in the state's statutes. Whenever an individual knows that he or she is included as a beneficiary in a trust, that individual has a right to know what is in the document. Occasionally, other family members may be possessive over the documents or not be transparent in some way or another. Usually, this is due to an error in communications or to human mistake about one's duties with respect to trust administration.
Whether it is a living trust or one created in a decedent's will, the beneficiary who is anxious to know the provisions of the document can simply call the person in charge of the trust and pose a series of prepared questions. A personal upfront discussion will usually reveal all and result in a copy of the trust instrument being turned over to the previously uninformed beneficiary. It does happen rarely that the person handling the trust, i.e., the trustee, may have sinister intentions or could be holding a grudge of some sort against the inquiring beneficiary.
When the trustee remains resistant to transparency, it is likely time to consult with one's own attorney to bring the matter to a conclusion. After trying all of the reasonable options, it becomes worth the cost of legal services to have an independent voice on one's side. Almost always, this will get the matter resolved and result in the inquiring individual receiving a full explanation of the process, the details and purposes of the trust.
At this point, one will have a copy of the document and everything will be clarified regarding the trust administration. In most cases, the beneficiary will be pleased at taking the necessary action to acquire the vital information that was not forthcoming. In a few rare instances, this step may be another roadblock wherein it becomes clear that legal action is brewing due to conflicting perspectives. When an outright conflict is confirmed, it is important that one is represented by an independent and experienced legal professional who is intimately familiar with California laws regarding trusts and estates.