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Grounds for Contesting a Trust in California

Whether you are the Trustee, Beneficiary, or Heir of a Living Trust, the question is, “can a Trust be contested?” The quick answer is, “Yes, a trust can be contested!” When contesting a trust, i.e., disputing a Trust, voiding a Trust, invalidating a Trust, you will need to consider how the Trust is invalid and a trust litigation attorney will be invaluable. Is the Trust invalid due to state trust laws, undue duress, or forgery? When you are disputing a Trust, you are seeking to change the inheritance, Bequest, gift, or the distribution per the Trust agreement.

Probate Topics, Probate Litigation 

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Contesting a LIving Trust California

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How to Contest a Trust in California

Now, as a brush-up, there are different types of Trusts, and they fall into two kinds of categories. 

The categories are the following:

  1. Revocable Trusts
  2. Irrevocable Trusts 

Both categories of Trusts are open to the trust contest.  

You will have to file a lawsuit in the probate court (also called venue) of the state that has jurisdiction over the Trust. Note: Once the grantor / Trustor dies, all trusts are considered “irrevocable.”

When you file your lawsuit, the probate court will determine the following:

  1. Do you have the standing to sue, i.e., you have some vested interest in the Trust and outcome
  2. You have a legal argument that supports your trust contest.  

In this article, we here at Hess-Verdon & Associates have put together information that will help guide you to the right decision before expending valuable time and effort. If you have one or more of the following possible reasons to contest, we would suggest contacting our firm and ask for a 1-hour free consultation. You will receive an upfront counsel and give you a percentage of outcomes based on your viewpoint. Learn about us here and why we are the choice for trust contests.

Trust Disputes and what to know

Trusts are very complex legal instruments.  When disputes arise based on trustee administration disagreements, a trust dispute lawyer can help mitigate possible mediation, arbitration or litigation.

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Contesting a Trust in California

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What are the reasons to contest a trust?

We will layout the ideas here and how you must prove your challenge to the Trust.  

Reasons to Contest a Trust

  • Incompetence and Undue Influence
  • All states require the trustor to be mentally competent
  • No undue influence
  • No Suffering from mental illness at the time of signing
  • Can include dementia
  • Substance abuse which calls into question their capacity to create a legal binding document.
  • Documentary defect Contest
  • Forgery
  • Violating Provisions
  • Trusts must be written or typed and signed by:
  • The maker of the will (trustor)
  • Needs two witnesses who were present at the signing.
  • Each witness must sign the Trust or the will
  • Multiple wills and Trusts
  • There are times when a Trustor was married and later divorced and has a Trust. Then, the trustor remarries and creates another Trust and takes into consideration his/her “blended family.” The question arises, which is the primary document, and this is the bone of contention. 

Not a Trust Contest, its the administration of the Trust. (will not trigger a no-contest)

  • Engaging in corrupt acts, misappropriating, or wasting trust funds.
  • Failing to make required distributions
  • Failing to account to the beneficiaries
What are the reasons to contest a trust?

We will layout the ideas here and how you must prove your challenge to the Trust.  

Reasons to Contest a Trust

  • Incompetence and Undue Influence
  • All states require the trustor to be mentally competent
  • No undue influence
  • No Suffering from mental illness at the time of signing
  • Can include dementia
  • Substance abuse which calls into question their capacity to create a legal binding document.
  • Documentary defect Contest
  • Forgery
  • Violating Provisions
  • Trusts must be written or typed and signed by:
  • The maker of the will (trustor)
  • Needs two witnesses who were present at the signing.
  • Each witness must sign the Trust or the will
  • Multiple wills and Trusts
  • There are times when a Trustor was married and later divorced and has a Trust. Then, the trustor remarries and creates another Trust and takes into consideration his/her “blended family.” The question arises, which is the primary document, and this is the bone of contention. 

Not a Trust Contest, its the administration of the Trust. (will not trigger a no-contest)

  • Engaging in corrupt acts, misappropriating, or wasting trust funds.
  • Failing to make required distributions
  • Failing to account to the beneficiaries

1st Takeaway: There is a window of 120 days in which an objection must be filed IF the Trust has already been admitted to probate. 

Once the Trustee gives notice to the beneficiary’s via the Notice of Irrevocability or Notice of Trust Administration sent via mail notice, you have 120 days under probate code section 16061.7 to act.  Learn more about how long a trust can remain open after death

Contesting a Trust in California

2nd Takeaway: There is a window of 120 days in which an objection must be filed IF the Trust has already been admitted to probate. Once the Trustee gives notice to the beneficiary’s via the Notice of Irrevocability or Notice of Trust Administration sent via mail notice, you have 120 days under probate code section 16061.7 to act.

3rd takeaway: There is an extension possible if the beneficiary requests a copy of the Trust document after receiving the initial notice.

4th Takeaway: If you are a beneficiary, and you fail to file a Trust contest within the 120 days, then you will forever be barred from contesting the Trust in the future.

Note: If you are the Trustee, and fail to give the statutory notice under section 16061.7 to the beneficiaries, the statute of limitations remains open indefinitely. 

Our stance: This is a very crucial topic, and a competent estate planning attorney will need to review all aspects. Ensure your estate planning attorney works closely with probate litigation matters.

Learn about Hess-Verdon. Located in Fashion Island at 620 Newport Center Dr. Newport Beach, CA. 92660.

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Contesting a Trust

 Are You Considering Contesting a Trust or the most recent amendment? Was there a capacity issue or undue influence?

Be Careful when contesting a trust and know the elements it takes to protect the trust assets. Reserve your rights before Statute of limitations happen!

Hess-Verdon works hard to resolve Trust and Estate issues and preserve the estate by minimizing costly litigation. Contact us for a No Charge, No-Obligation Consultation.

 

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