Trust Contests

Experienced, Effective Attorneys In Trust Contest Matters

Establishing a trust is a major decision and trusts often reflect deeply personal values and choices. When forming a trust, the creator must have full knowledge of how their specific trust will operate. If someone misleads the trust creator, manipulates the trust administrator, or forms a fraudulent trust, it can impact families in numerous emotional and financial ways.

The attorneys at Hinojosa & Forer LLP understand that a decision to move forward with a trust contest can be difficult and time-consuming. However, our decades of experience in estate and trust litigation will be valuable. In these sensitive cases, we will work with you to make sure that your loved one’s true wishes are respected.

Understanding Trusts in Los Angeles

Many people throughout the United States implement trusts into their estate plans due to the flexibility, peace of mind and sometimes tax benefits these arrangements can provide. A trust can sometimes help the creator arrange the distribution of their property to their beneficiaries while allowing those beneficiaries to avoid a protracted probate process. Instead of the trust creator’s property becoming subject to division through a tedious probate process, a trust can effectively allow the family of the trust creator to avoid most, if not all, probate proceedings required to resolve their loved one’s death.

There are two main forms of trust you could create in California: a living or revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. If your loved one created a living trust, they are usually permitted to modify the terms of the trust and add to the contents of the trust as they see fit until their death.

As the name implies, an irrevocable trust does not permit any adjustments or modifications after it has been created. The contents of the trust cannot be changed. Placing property into an irrevocable trust completely shifts that property into the control of the trustee. and no changes can be made to an irrevocable trust unless it is proven to be invalid as a result of fraud, forgery, lack of capacity, or undue influence.

The trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the trust creator and their beneficiaries to follow the terms of the trust pursuant the creator’s (also known as “settlor” or “trustor”) instructions. In addition, they must maintain complete records of all transactions related to the trust and its administration. They must also save receipts and invoices for all expenses they charge to the estate. These are important responsibilities they must be willing and able to handle legally and to the best of their abilities. If a designated trustee is unable or unwilling to perform their duties, the trust may include the creator’s preference for a secondary trustee to take their place.

Reasons To Contest Trust Formation Or Administration

Many people in the US use trusts to make the distribution process efficient and to preserve as much inheritance as possible for their loved ones. The thought of challenging your deceased loved one’s trust can be daunting. However, if you have grounds to contest a trust or challenge any aspect of trust administration in Los Angeles, a trust attorney is the best asset you can have to assist you in your efforts. Common reasons for initiating trust contests include:

  • Claims of undue influence. The court will look various factors to determine whether there was undue influence, such as the individual’s susceptibility to undue influence, whether they were isolated from others, whether there was a confidential relationship, whether the gift under the will at issue unduly benefitted the person accused of undue influence and whether the will was a result of the undue influence exerted on the creator of the will by the person that benefitted.
  • Claims of lack of capacity. The creator must have the requisite mental capacity at the time the trust was executed in order for the trust to be enforceable. Depending on the complexity of the trust or trust amendment, the requisite capacity ranges from testamentary capacity (as is required for a will) to contractual capacity.
  • Claims of fraud. A trust may be found to be invalid if it can be established that it was signed as a result of misrepresentations.
  • Claims of forgery, lack of execution, or other legal problems with the document itself.

We know what information we will need to properly assess whether your claim has potential. Alternatively, if you are a trustee who seeks representation in defending against a trust contest, we can analyze whether the other party’s claim lacks merit. Once we are satisfied with the validity – or invalidity – of a claim, our attorneys will work toward resolving this matter.

There is also a strict statute of limitations for contesting the trust under the Probate Code, which starts when the trustee notification is served or a copy of the trust is received, whichever is later. Therefore, it is imperative to contact an attorney as quickly as possible if you think you might have a basis to contest a trust or if you are a trustee who is defending against a trust contest.

Rely On A Leading Firm For Trust And Estate Disputes

We are one of the leading firms for disputes involving trusts, and we represent clients in all aspects of trust and estate litigation. In fact, US News & World Report has ranked our firm as “Tier 1” for the Los Angeles metro area in trust and estate litigation. We are confident in our ability to address a wide range of trust disputes on behalf of Los Angeles County clients and have a long record of successful cases behind our team. In fact, we are often referred by other attorneys to handle the most contentious and complicated trust disputes. We are ready to provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal representation you need to approach a trust dispute with confidence and peace of mind.

If you have legal questions about trusts, are considering attempting to invalidate a trust or an amendment to a trust, or are seeking representation in connection with defending a trust or trust amendment, we are ready to assist you. Contact our California firm to schedule a meeting with our experienced lawyers. You may send an email or call 310-473-7000

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