Hess-Verdon & Associates PLC
Your Orange County
Trust Litigation Attorneys
Our Orange County trust litigation lawyers focus on helping trustees, beneficiary, and heirs in the event there is a trust contest. Our Orange County Law firm focuses primarily on litigation disputes, where irrevocable trusts are in dispute based upon undue duress, embezzlement, breach of fiduciary duty, and other estate litigation matters.
Hess-Verdon & Associates are poised to help you where needed!
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TOP ORANGE COUNTY TRUST LITIGATION ATTORNEYS serving southern California families
HESS-VERDON IS YOUR #1 ORANGE COUNTY TRUST
& ESTATE LITIGATION LAW FIRM
First, the basics, what is a trust…
A trust is a legal vehicle (fiduciary arrangement) that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold and manage the assets on behalf of the beneficiary and heirs.
There are different types of trust which fall into the following categories:
- Revocable trusts/ Living Trust:(Can be altered or canceled dependent on the grantor)
- Irrevocable trusts: Irrevocable trusts in California play a significant role in Trust and estate planning with a focus on minimizing estate tax and personal tax. The grantor gives up control of the assets, which allows for long term savings and protection from creditors and legal judgments, including a more natural path to distribute assets to the beneficiaries.
(California Probate Code §16060 protects the Beneficiary rights in California on irrevocable trusts. It states the trustee must keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed of the trust administration process. The beneficiary can enforce their rights by filing a probate court petition.
When a trustor/grantor dies, all trusts become irrevocable trusts. A trustee is then appointed to make decisions in the beneficiary’s best interest.
What is trust litigation and why does it happen?
Trustee vs. Beneficiary
Trust litigation is a legal dispute typically between a trustee and one or more beneficiaries regarding the management of the estate’s trust administration process. There may be some alleged breach, and unfortunately, estate litigation is trying times, especially when dealing with family and having to contest and protect the trust.
Trustee vs. Co-Trustee Litigation
Trust litigation happens between a trustee and co-trustee, where they cannot agree on the distribution and management of the estate assets. When times like this happen, expert counsel is essential! Many times, one or both trustees can be removed. An estate attorney is invaluable at this juncture to smooth things out to mitigate any changing of trustees.
Know these facts for trust litigation and protect yourself
Below will assist you in whether you are the trustee or the beneficiary.
The Beneficiary and the Trust Litigation Process
At the initial onset, when the trustor dies, a beneficiary has an allotted time to contest the trust(legal document) for its validity. After the time-frame, the beneficiary will have given up their rights. Therefore, as a beneficiary, it is crucial to take early action to protect your legal rights.
1st takeaway: As a beneficiary, read the trust document and gauge it against the trustor’s health at the time.
Take into the following into consideration:
- Lack of testamentary capacity: If there’s a discrepancy with signatures or dates of the trust? What was the level of mental ability of the trustor at the execution of the trust?
- Undue Influence: Does something seem amiss? Was the trustor induced to act otherwise than by their own free will?
- Fraud: Trust attorney needed for forensic analysis.
Bottom line: Know your rights, stay within time-frames, stay reasonable in your expectations from the trustee, and consider if there is a “no-contest clause.” Lastly, select a trust attorney with deep court time that can keep you out of legal complications. Hess-Verdon attorneys have 30+ years of litigation experience.
Are you the trustee? How to eliminate Trust Litigation and disputes
As a trustee, you have a fiduciary obligation to complete the wishes of the trustor/grantor. First, contact the beneficiary’s in the trust document and sharing your pertinent pieces of information such as name, email, phone number, etc. and explaining how you’ll keep them informed.
To continue, as a trustee, you have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust. Keep the following up-to-date at all times and don’t co-mingle funds.
- Book-keeping: Maintain book-keeping pristine and hire an accountant when needed.
- Estate Assets Protected: All assets to be accounted for and protected until distribution.
- Pay Taxes, debts, and reports to beneficiaries: Transparency is the best remedy to mitigate family estate disputes.
- Commingling of assets: Do not use the estate assets as a “piggy-bank.” Even if you intend to pay back, it’s a breach and can be considered as a misappropriation of trust funds.
What to Expect from a Trust Attorney who emphases in trust litigation
In the event of a dispute, and during these times, the Hess-Verdon team of attorneys works closely with California families to offer a no-charge, no-obligation consultation. We feel confident to provide our upfront time and effort because of experience knowing when a case warrants litigation. No need to waste time! Within an hour with our experienced trust litigation attorneys, you will know where you stand.
What are some primary reasons to dispute a trust
It breaks down into two parts:
- Challenging the trust’s validity: Forgery, undue duress, trustor incapacitated during the signing of the trust.
- Transparency: Disputing the trustee’s ability to manage the estate administration process with openness and fairness.
If you the trustee or a beneficiary, we can help you know where you stand and how to move forward. In some instances, a petition to the courts or a letter is all it takes to get the estate process moving with transparency.
Breach Fiduciary Duty and being “Reasonable”
When the trustee fails and breaches their fiduciary duty, or when beneficiaries are not reasonable, then it becomes necessary to act.
About Hess-Verdon Trust Litigation Attorney Serving Orange County, California Families
Hess-Verdon & Associates is one of the most knowledgeable and most sophisticated trusts and estate law firm in the state of California at both the trial and appellate levels.
Our viewpoint is the following: Aggressive legal representation with a team of experts that protect you, our preferred client, with current tax and estate planning strategies.
Our litigation team has spent years acquiring extensive experience in trial preparation, strategy, and trial presentation to help you with your specific case.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs, qualifications, staffing approaches, and rate structures to resolve the estate and trust-related matters successfully. Our knowledgeable and aggressive actions are necessary to ensure the trustor/grantor maintains their wishes on the administration of the trust.
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