Trust Litigation Attorney

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“A trust litigation attorney is a legal professional who handles legal disputes related to trusts. Trusts are legal arrangements in which a trustee holds and manages assets to benefit designated beneficiaries. When disputes arise over the administration of a trust, an attorney can help clients navigate the complex legal issues involved. Estate planning lets you decide what your assets will be used for after your death. This reduces stress for the people you leave behind while giving you peace.”

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Trust Litigation Attorney

It cannot be easy to create and distribute trust. Trust attorneys can help you and your loved ones after a deceased person has left a trust behind. They can also assist in creating estate plans and establishing trusts.

If you are having difficulties with trust administration or suspect that the trustee or beneficiaries have committed wrongdoing, a lawyer specializing in trust litigation can assist.


How Does a Trust Work?

It’s important to understand what trust litigation attorneys do by understanding what trusts are and why trusts go through litigation. In addition to the many types of trusts, each serves an entirely different purpose as a legal document.

The purpose of all trusts is the same: to allow people to choose how their property and assets will be distributed and managed after they pass away, regardless of the type of trust they create.

Trusts are legal agreements between a trustor, a trustee, and a beneficiary. When creating the trust, a trustor establishes their intentions for distributing their assets after death.

According to the law, they must follow the trust terms and manage trust assets in the best interest of its beneficiaries. Finally, the beneficiary is whoever benefits from the trust.


Trust Litigation Attorneys: How Do They Help?

By providing trustees with the defense, they may need against frivolous lawsuits. A trust litigation attorney helps beneficiaries receive what they are entitled to. It is impossible to have a short trust. However, poor trustee behavior or interference may further complicate a situation that was already complicated.

After losing a loved one, a messy fight with someone you love or trust is the last thing you want. However, sometimes things turn out differently than you expected. In trust litigation, you challenge the beneficiary or trustee’s conduct and find the best solution for your situation.

The trust litigation process will help you obtain the information you are entitled to. This includes the financial history of the trust, a copy of its document, an asset list, the principal, and more. In addition to defending yourself against fruitless accusations and unreasonable demands, trust litigation also involves defending yourself.

Trust litigation isn’t always necessary, thankfully. Trusts are usually set up, managed, and dissolved without much trouble. Their trustees are committed to serving the beneficiaries’ interests while fulfilling the grantor’s financial legacy.

Administrators, executors, trustees, and co-trustees do their best to fulfill the wishes of grantors and their families. Trustees may not always be as trustworthy as we hoped, or their relationship with beneficiaries may be more strained than it should be.

In times like these, you must seek legal counsel, whether you are the accuser or the accused. Our guide will explain exactly what involvement in trust litigation is and whom you may want.


Typical Trust Litigation Situations


Beneficiaries can sue trustees if they have engaged in wrongdoing.

A trustee who is ineffective or illegal in managing a trust can face lawsuits. Beneficiaries can sue trustees if they have engaged in wrongdoing. Such as failing to distribute funds on time or violating the trust’s terms. The trustee may act when they are also beneficiaries, which could lead to legal action.


Fraud or Undue Influence

Generally, it is possible to contest a trust if it appears that the trustor did not create it or if they forced themselves into creating it or altering it. We must also create trust in a sound mind by its creator.


Disagreement about the best interest of the trust

Trusts often have more than one trustee, so disputes can arise when there is disagreement about the best interest of the trust’s funds or assets. Legal representation may benefit trustees involved in serious disagreements, helping them avoid further litigation and protecting the trustor’s wishes.


Fiduciary Duties and Trust Basics

Trustees, beneficiaries, and grantors of trusts hold assets, properties, and accounts “in trust” between them. Trusts are an estate planning concept characterized by their respective trust documents.

Whether it is a trust, an estate plan, a life insurance policy, or another financial instrument, trusts have a range of uses. Their flexibility is their primary benefit over a will, which dictates who receives what after a person’s passing.

It is possible to write trusts that withhold assets for years after the grantor leaves, managing the assets. Hence, they increase in value and pay dividends to the beneficiaries until they reach a certain age or have achieved certain milestones.

Special needs adults and disabled loved ones can enjoy them by providing a long-term and comfortable passive income. A trust can include provisions to pay income to your children and the remainder to charities. Things only become more complicated as the number of grantors, trustees, and beneficiaries increases.

A trust, unlike a will, begins to serve its purpose once it takes shape, even while the grantor is still alive. Wills are testamentary and take effect upon the grantor’s death.

A blind trust, for instance, manages investments without informing the grantor how the assets and accounts work to avoid potential conflicts of interest, to an irrevocable trust in which grantors lose most ownership rights over their assets in exchange for reducing their taxable estates and protecting them from creditor claims.

Since trusts are complex, many things need to improve when setting them up and managing them. Messages can get lost, meanings unclear, and intentions blurred due to miscommunication between grantors, trustees, and beneficiaries. There is, therefore, one guiding principle behind all trusts. The trustee’s fiduciary duty to the grantor and beneficiaries.


The Steps to Take Trust Litigation Forward.

Understanding the characteristics of trust litigation will help you decide if trust litigation is right for you. This chapter discusses the steps you can take to take trust litigation forward.


Obtaining a copy of the trust.

Once the settlor dies, obtaining a copy of the trust is easy. A notice must be sent to all trust beneficiaries and heirs within 60 days after the settlor’s death. In the document, all parties receive information about the trustee, their address, phone number, and the central location of the trust.

In some cases, trustees sometimes mail out a copy of the trust with the required notice. The notice informs anyone who receives it can request a copy of the trust, including any amendments.

Trustees only sometimes fulfill all of their duties, of course. Requesting a copy of the trust is necessary if you or your attorney are a trust beneficiary and you have not received the required notice after the death of the trust settlor. You must make a written request.

It is clear from California’s Probate Code that if the trustee does not provide a copy of the trust after 60 days of a written demand, the beneficiary may petition the probate court for an order that requires the trustee to provide a copy. It is not possible to unlock the courthouse door with an oral demand. A written demand is your key.

According to a common misconception, a person is not entitled to a copy of a trust and its amendments if they are not left anything in the original trust or the trust amendment. This claim is incorrect.

A person is only entitled to receive a copy of the trust if they are an heir of the settlor. For a template letter to request a copy of a trust, read our article “How to obtain a copy of a trust.”


Secondly, does the trust accurately represent the settlor’s wishes?

Upon receiving a copy of the trust, you will, of course, read it carefully. It is crucial to file a trust contest if the settlor’s wishes do not appear in the trust. Trust contests are a type of trust litigation.

Trust contests are lawsuits filed to make a trust void by suing the probate court. You can contest a trust by arguing that you should not use it, that one or more amendments should lapse, or you can contest the trust amendment itself. We’ll explain why contesting a trust is a good idea.

The trustee’s performance depends on whether the settlor’s wishes appear in the trust.


Third, is the trustee following the trust terms?

Trustees are not required to act perfectly when assessing this. In California, for instance, the law requires them to act differently. In consideration of the assets in the trust, the trustee’s expertise (if any), and the trust’s terms, trustees must act reasonably.

Even if you don’t know anything about trust law, common sense is right 90% of the time.

  • A trustee who doesn’t seem to be doing anything for no good reason
  • An apparent beneficiary of trust property is a trustee.
  • Fiduciary duties are all warning signs that a trustee may breach their duties if they refuse to give you the necessary information.

You should communicate with the trustee to address your concerns. You should consider trust litigation if you have tried that and it hasn’t worked. Direct communication between trustees and trust beneficiaries is fast, easy, and inexpensive.


The Cost of Trust Litigation Applies in California.

Generally, what follows may apply to other states as well. The cost of trust litigation only applies in California. Since we practice in California, we understand how attorneys charge for their services well. Regardless, you should consult a local attorney if your case is outside California.


Benefits vs. Trustees: Cost Coverage

In California, trust litigation costs vary by two factors: whether you are a beneficiary of a trust or the trustee and whether you decide to hire a lawyer hourly or on a contingency. Many California trust litigation attorneys will gladly represent you for an hourly fee. Fewer will accept the case on a contingency fee.

Trust litigation attorneys are normally paid hourly by trustees. The only significant exception is when trustees are litigating to regain trust property. We need litigation to recover title or possession if an individual wrongfully take it from it.

If there are few or no assets in the trust, you would need to file a lawsuit for possession. Since there are no other means of paying for the litigation, you will probably have to hire an attorney on a contingency basis.

Since there are no other means of paying for the litigation, you will probably have to find an attorney.


The hourly fee for California trust litigation

The hourly fee for California trust litigation is what you expect. The law firm charges you for the time the firm spent pursuing your case and the various costs incurred. A lawyer receives an hourly rate or a range of fees if several lawyers simultaneously work on the case.

There will be out-of-pocket costs when you hire an attorney under an hourly agreement. Paralegals earn a lower hourly rate. Law firms charge for the time they spend on your case.

In an hourly rate agreement, it is impossible to estimate the exact cost. It is difficult to estimate the fees initially, as they are so wide.

A client trust account will return money to you if your case ends early. An estimate is just that, an estimate. Your case may continue if the client’s trust account runs out of funds. Therefore, you must deposit more money into the client’s trust account if the funds run out.


Contingency fees arrangement

In a contingency fee arrangement, your attorney only gets paid if they give you something valuable. You will likely know only some of what the trust owns at the beginning of the case. The contingency fee depends on whatever financial value comes in.

Most firms offer some tiered contingency fee agreement. Most of the time, at Attorney Real Estate Group, we can structure our deals as follows:

  • As long as we can resolve the case without going to probate court, we will receive 25 percent of the value of the recovered assets.
  • If the case is settled 90 days before the trial date, one-third of the amount recovered gets retained, and
  • It’s usually settled before trial, or there is a trial and judgment in your favor (40 percent of the recovery.)

The costs of a trust litigation case typically include the following:

  • Court reporter fees.
  • Transcripts of depositions.
  • Certified copies of certain documents.
  • Regular copies of others.

Expert witnesses may also earn compensation.


A Trust Litigation Attorney’s Responsibility

If any circumstances arise in a trust that could lead to litigation, an experienced trust litigation attorney can assist any involved parties. In most legal situations, a statute of limitations applies, meaning the issue we cannot prosecute after a certain time.


A Trust Litigation Attorney’s Responsibility


Trust litigation differs from other litigation in that it can occur many years after the trustor’s death or when a minor beneficiary reaches adulthood. The discovery of wrongdoing may only occur decades later, even after the trustee has passed away.

Lawyers who specialize in trust litigation can represent clients on either side. Whether you seek help against a trustee or need defense from a trustee, discussing your case with a lawyer would be beneficial.

An experienced trust litigation attorney knows the laws surrounding trusts and can tell you about your case. Without an attorney, resolving trust issues can be time-consuming, expensive, and difficult because several types of trusts and many people are involved.


Questions Related to Trust Litigation


Is it possible to challenge a trust?

To challenge a trust, one must have legitimate legal grounds. There are several valid reasons to contest a trust, including:

  • The document itself is issued as a formal issue
  • Fraudulent activity
  • Settlors with a lack of mental ability
  • The trustees breached their fiduciary duties.
  • Removing trustees
  • Unfair Influence on Settlors
  • Inability to timely account to beneficiaries


Is there anyone who can challenge trust?

Providing the beneficiaries or other interested parties have valid legal grounds, they can challenge the trust.


Is an attorney necessary for me?

There is no substitute for legal counsel if you are a Trustee, beneficiary, or other interested party. These matters can be very complex and emotional, involving family members or loved ones. You should work with an estate litigation attorney specializing in trusts.


Bottom Line

Attorney Real Estate’s trust attorneys have considerable experience representing beneficiaries in litigation involving trustee actions or other disputes related to California trusts.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...

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