Do you believe the Trust of a loved one has reason to be disputed?

Trust disputes occur when a family member or beneficiary has a solid reason to believe that a loved one’s Trust and estate have not been carried out with the decedent’s intent. The process for disputing a trust is very similar to that of contesting a will. In this process, a trustee or beneficiary must file a petition with the probate court in a timely manner to review the validity of the terms of the Trust.

Types of Disputes

Trustee Dispute:

This type of trust dispute is the most common. It takes place when the beneficiaries of a trust find an issue with the person who holds the trustee position. Reasons for this may vary:

  • The trustee may be neglectful in their fiduciary duty or in administering the Trust.
  • The trustee may be mismanaging property or trust assets
  • If the trustee is set to inherit part of the estate, they may be acting fraudulently

In this case, the disputing party will turn to the court to replace the designated trustee with a successor trustee.

Trust Contest

This type of trust dispute occurs when a disputer believes the language of the Trust itself is improper. The error can be due to either an intentional or honest mistake. It can also be the result of improper or fraudulent influence. For instance, if a sudden new provision was added to the Trust that changes the beneficiaries or shares of the inheritance.

The disputing party will enter trust litigation to prove that the decedent acted under undue influence and that this new provision was not their real intent. In the case of error, a previous trust document may be used to administer the estate or correct the new document.

Property Dispute

This type of dispute is when the property included in the estate has disputed or uncertain ownership. The reason for this may be that the document was not updated when real property was sold. It can also be in question when there are cases of joint accounts and assets. A few examples:

  • A property or business was sold
  • A new property was purchased without being written into the Trust
  • A caretaker opens a joint account for good-intentioned convenience (such as so they may write checks while caring for the family member)
  • Cash assets were transferred into a joint account with ill intention, and the joint owner takes full ownership after the decedent’s passing

Who can initiate a trust dispute?

When looking to enter estate litigation and dispute a trust, the person must be a direct beneficiary or heir. This means they must be named in documents from the estate planning process when the decedent created a trust, or they must be a direct relative by birth or adoption.

Though being a family member does not automatically make one a trustee. In cases where there are multiple living generations of family members, a distant relative such as a great-grandchild will have to prove a direct close relationship and intent of the decedent to be included. This type of dispute is most often utilized if there are multiple versions of a trust with different beneficiaries named.

Invalidating a Trust

Invalidating a trust requires that the court approves further investigation into the documents and trust administration before the close of probate. Therefore it is crucial to move quickly when intending to dispute a trust. The court may invalidate a trust for the reasons above or if it can be proven that the Trust was created improperly or funded illegally.

The Legacy Lawyers

It is vital to consult legal counsel when disputing a trust in California. The process requires strict adherence to the Probate Code and requires that paperwork is filled out and filed correctly.

The Legacy Lawyers are experienced in legal matters of disputing a trust. We are able to answer any questions you may have and walk with you through every step of the disputing process. Our desire is to assist you in ensuring that your loved one’s intentions are administered quickly and correctly.

If you are interested in initiating the legal process of disputing a trust, make an appointment to discuss your case today with The Legacy Lawyers by calling (800) 840-1998.