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Ultimate Guide to Contesting a Trust or will – What You Should Know!

How to Find the Right Trust Contest Attorney

and what to expect when working with Hess-Verdon.

Your Orange County Trust Disputes Attorneys

 

Can a Trust be Contested

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. 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.

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 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.

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.

Have Your Case Reviewed Today

Call 949-706-7300

Serving State: California, Southern California

Serving Counties: Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside & San Bernardino County, San Diego County

Serving Cities: Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Corona Del Mar, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, Buena Park, Fullerton, Orange, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Garden Grove, Tustin, Yorba Linda, Fountain Valley, Westminster, Dana Point, Rancho Santa Margarita, North Tustin, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Villa Park, Ladera Ranch, Placentia, Laguna Woods, Aliso Viejo, Coto De Caza, State of California

 

Schedule an appointment today. Our specialized team is ready to assist you.

Call 949-706-7300.

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

There’s a no-contest clause in the Trust. Is it Contestable? (Terrorem Clauses)

Our suggestion, contact an estate planning attorney as contesting the Trust could cut you off from your inheritance. 

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
  • Not 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 there are multiple Trusts. A Trustor has a Trust before a divorce, for example, then the Trustor remarries and creates another Trust for the new blended family. The question arises, which is the primary document, and this is the bone of contention. 

Schedule an appointment today. Our specialized team is ready to assist you.

Call 949-706-7300.

Contesting a Trust in California

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.

2nd takeaway: There is an extension possible if the beneficiary requests a copy of the Trust document after receiving the initial notice.

3rd 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.

When Considering hiring Hess-Verdon trust litigation attorneys

We work efficiently to help individuals, families, fiduciaries, organization with the following:

  • Trustees
  • Beneficiaries
  • Individuals and families
  • Banks
  • Trust Companies
  • Charitable entities
  • Family Offices
  • Corporate Fiduciaries
  • Corporate Trustees
  • Business Owners

Here at Hess-Verdon, we counsel clients on various aspects of estate disputes. Such as investigating potential claims, evaluating the merits of bringing a claim, filing or defending a claim, and when necessary litigating a claim through trial or settlement.

With our expert team of trust litigators, in many instances, we can settle such proceedings without going to trial after taking into account the merits of the positions advanced by the respective parties and the tax rules applicable.  

Rest assured, the Hess-Verdon team is here to help you. Unlike some other law firms, we are a full-service firm. Handling thousands of probate and trust litigation cases helps us know exactly steps are crucial for your situation.

Visit us in Fashion Island in Newport Beach. If you believe you need a team of attorneys, paralegals, and a helpful, caring staff, then read on.

 

Call: 949-706-7300.

To discuss your situation, to meet with us or to get your questions answered.

We are one of the Top Litigation Law Firms in Orange County

We are here to bring Peace of Mind!

Competent, Aggressive Legal Representation, Well Established

Get Smart & Strategic Legal Advice. Your Business deserves it!

Your Orange County Law Firm

Living Trusts, Estate Planning, Business Formation, Real Estate Law

Trust Litigation | Business Litigation | Real Estate Litigation

Jillyn Hess-Verdon

Managing Partner

Keith Van Dyke

Partner

James R. Cunningham

Senior Associate - Attorney

R. Kurt Ketchum

Associate Attorney

David Crumpton

Associate Attorney

Fee Arrangements Include:

  • Hourly fees, regular rates, structured rates, and custom rates to meet your particular needs.
  • Contingent Fees if the merits and nature of your case warrant.
  • Part hourly/part contingent fees.
  • Enforce provisions to make your opponent pay your fees.
  • Fixed Fees.
  • Retainers.
  • Cooperate with corporate legal department policies.
  • There is generally no charge to a new client for an initial one-hour consultation.
  • Second opinions on the handling of your case can be rendered on favorable terms, in some cases, at no charge.

We work with you to keep your fees to a minimum by designing a strategy that gets the maximum result. We work diligently to promote a favorable settlement with the least expenditure of time.

We have successfully represented a large variety of clients. The successful outcome of any given case, which is always dependent upon its specific facts, can never be guaranteed.

In some matters, when we negotiate some or all of the attorney fees on a contingency basis, the client may be held responsible for advanced costs.  

Some of the advanced costs (including, but not limited to)

  • Deposition fees, filing fees, witness fees, etc. when there is no recovery.