What is Trust Litigation?
Trust Litigation is a practice area when individuals are looking to contest a Trust.
What are reasons to contest a Trust?
There are several reasons to contest a trust that include undue influence, elder abuse, lack of capacity, and forgery.
What are my rights as a beneficiary of a Trust?
You have several rights as a beneficiary of a Trust. You are entitled to a notification by the Trustee. This means they must tell you certain details of the Trust. You are also entitled to receive a full copy of the Trust as well as any amendments made to it. These rights begin upon the Grantor's incapacity or death.
You also have a right to obtain an accounting by the Trustee. The accounting must be in a certain format outlined in the California Probate Code.
What do I do if I suspect Undue Influence?
If you suspect that a Trust or Will was the product of undue influence you must take action immediately. A consultation will determine if you have good reason to suspect Undue Influence. We will obtain a copy of the Trust and an Accounting by the Trustee. If the Trustee does not comply, we will file a petition with the Court to compel the Trustee to comply.
What is the general process to litigate a Trust?
After a consultation, we will attempt to resolve the litigation informally. This is done through letters and possibly private mediation. If this tactic does not work, we will then file a petition with the Court. Upon filing a petition, the Trustee will receive notice that there is a pending action and must defend themselves. After filing the petition, a process called Discovery begins. Discovery is a process where we can obtain various information such as bank records, attorneys' files, and medical records. Through Discovery we can also sit people down for Depositions. A Deposition is where the Deponent (the person being asked questions) must, under penalty of perjury, sit before the attorneys, clients, and a Court reporter and answer questions. We can then use their answers to conduct further Discovery. Upon the conclusion of discover, a Judge will set the case for a Mandatory Settlement Conference. This is a mediation to attempt to settle the case before trial. If the Mandatory Settlement Conference fails, the case will go to trial and the Judge will issue a ruling.