Ensures Your Rights are Protected
Contesting or Defending an estate should be a matter of last resort, but it's often the only way to ensure your rights are protected. Let us get to the bottom of your issue and aggressively represent your best interests.
Expert Knowledge. Unmatched Credentials
Probate and Trust litigation can be a complicated process that requires specialized knowledge of probate and trust law. It is critical you seek legal highly qualified legal advice as soon as possible to learn and understand your rights. Our experienced Southern California probate and trust litigation attorneys can help you with the litigation process and with all types of estate matters.
Most Common Issues Leading to Estate Litigation
If your loved one died with a will or trust that you believe does not accurately reflect his or her wishes, you’ll need to contest it, and go to probate court to litigate it. You cannot ask a judge to declare a it invalid just because you do not like the way that property was divided. You must have a legal reason to challenge it.
In order for a Will or Trust to be valid, the person creating it must have an firm understanding of their financial situation; they should know what assets they own, and what the general value of those assets are. Additionally they also need to be aware and understand their relationship to the people named in their estate.
If your loved one relied on another person to a degree where that person could exert control over your loved one's actions, then there may be a claim that the will or trust is invalid due to undue influence. This issue is especially relevant when a caretaker is involved, although caretakers are not the only one who have this type of influence.
Elder abuse is one of the fastest growing causes of estate litigation, and it comes in two forms— physical or financial. When someone is inflicting harm on your loved one, or the wrong person has gotten a hold of the financials, things can get out of hand very quickly. Time is of the essence. We must file temporary restraining orders to get the abuser away from your loved one, and after 21 days, we can go to court to file for permanent restraining orders. Elder abuse is very serious, and if the court finds that there was abuse, the district attorney could file criminal charges.
Under California Law, if you are the beneficiary of an estate, you have the right to know what is going on with that estate. The person taking over and administering the estate must notify you, within sixty days from the date of death, that the Trustor or Testator has passed away. Additionally the Trustee or Executor of the state must comply to any reasonable request within sixty days of the receipt of that request.
Mismanagement of the Estate
Under California Law, the trustee or executor has a fiduciary responsibility to act in good faith and the best interests of all the beneficiaries. Some of the more common instances of this are when there is a conflict of interest and they act in a way that is not in the best interests of a beneficiaries. This is especially true when a trustee or executor has personally or professionally profited from their actions, and has not reported the profit to the beneficiaries.
Lack of Clarity in a Will or Trust
Many litigation cases occur when there is lack of clarity in the way a trust or will is worded. Sometimes a grammatical error can radically change the distribution of assets. Also, when a trust provides lifetime benefits for a beneficiary, the execution of those benefits could conflict with other clauses in a trust. In these situations, it's highly recommended to file a motion, and have the court rule on how to proceed. Taking this action upfront, can short-circuit or help prevent any future litigation against a trust.
If you have concerns about a will or a trust, you should be aware that there are very specific time limits for contesting a will or a trust. Our experienced probate and trust litigators can help you act quickly in order to limit or avoid probate fees, preserve as much of the estate as possible and prevent others from taking property from the estate.