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Trust Litigation

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 over 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.

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