Our 2020 Trust & Estate Litigation Department Team
Trust and estate litigation is all too common in California. In some cases, disputes take place because a trustee, personal representative, or executor is not well-suited for the role of managing a complicated trust or estate. Disputes are particularly common when a trust or probate estate involves substantial amounts of money. Litigation can arise when disputes occur between beneficiaries, between a beneficiary and a trustee, or from a third party.
When negotiating a dispute privately becomes impossible, you may need to engage a trust and estate litigation attorney. At the Law Office of Daniel Hunt, our trust litigation lawyers have extensive experience in California trust and estate litigation. If you are facing trust and estate litigation, we can help. Contact our experienced Sacramento trust and estate litigation lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Process of Trust and Estate Litigation in Sacramento
After a person passes away after creating a will, an interested person will file the will with the probate court. The process of litigation begins when someone files a petition in probate court alleging an issue. Only people with an interest in the estate have a right to file a petition contesting the estate administration. Once the petition has been filed, the court will begin the process of probate litigation. The person disputing the will or estate administration and the estate executor will both submit evidence supporting their side. At the end of the litigation process, the judge will rule on the disputed issue.
Litigation Regarding a Last Will and Testament
Will contests are common in California, especially when a significant estate is involved. In many cases, a family member disagrees with how the property of the estate is distributed in the will. Or a third-party may believe that the testator who passed away intended them to inherit some or most of the property. California probate law allows for the following four legal grounds for challenging the validity of a will.
- First, someone can bring a challenge as to the testamentary capacity of the testator
- Second, another person exerted undue influence on the testator
- The testator did not properly sign the will
- A person fraudulently induced the testator during the creation of the will
In order to contest a will, the person challenging the will must prove that one of the situations listed above has occurred. For example, if someone alleges a lack of testamentary capacity, he or she will need to offer proof that the testator did not have the necessary capacity to create a will. Likewise, when someone argues that the will was written under fraudulent conditions he or she will need to the will included terms that the testator did not intend to include, or that someone tricked the testator into signing the will.
During the litigation process, petitioners can file evidence in the form of witness statements, documents, or video footage. Typically, the person appointed as the estate administrator will defend the will throughout the probate litigation process. When the petitioner can prove that any one of the four conditions happened, the probate judge will decide to invalidate the will.
Litigation Involving Conservatorships and Guardianships
Litigation involving the appointment of a conservatorship or guardianship is often emotionally charged. At Law Office of Daniel Hunt, our lawyers have successfully represented clients in a variety of litigation involving conservatorship and guardianships, such as:
- Whether or not an allegedly incapacitated person needs a guardian or conservator
- Who the court should appoint as the conservator or guardian of the incapacitated person
- Disputes regarding the removal of fiduciaries
- Disputes arising from financial exploitation and elder abuse
- Claims of breach of fiduciary duty on the part of guardians or conservators
Litigation Involving Breach of Trust
Trustees owe the beneficiaries of a trust a fiduciary duty. When trustees breach their fiduciary duties, interested parties can bring a breach of trust action against the trustee. At the Law Office of Daniel Hunt, we thoroughly investigate our clients’ cases and pursue trust litigation for the following types of breach of trust:
- Diversion of assets from the trust to the trustee
- Mismanagement of assets owned by the trust
- Failure to perform the duties required by the trustee
- Use of undue influence against a vulnerable person
- Failure to act in accordance with the terms of the trust agreement
Trust Modification or Reformation
Sometimes modifying or reforming a trust becomes necessary. However, the person who set up the trust is not always available to modify the terms of the trust. The creator of the trust may have passed away or may have become incompetent or disabled. In other cases, the trust is irrevocable, making it extremely difficult to revoke or change. At the Law Office of Daniel Hunt, our lawyers can help you seek a trust modification when necessary. We also have experience representing trustees who are fighting the trust modification. The following are commonly sought after trust modifications:
- Removing a trustee
- Adding in a new trustee or trustees
- Changing a beneficiary
- Protecting the children from a first marriage
- Protecting a family member who has become disabled
When one person seeks to modify a trust and another person is against modifying the trust, litigation can ensue. Our legal team knows how to effectively modify a trust. We fight hard for our clients during the trust litigation process.
Contact Our Sacramento Trust and Estate Lawyers Today
If you are facing a trust and estate litigation issue, you need the representation of a skilled and effective lawyer. At the Law Office of Daniel Hunt, our lawyers can seek to secure a full accounting of the trust’s activities in order to prove our case. In the area of will contests, we know how to fight hard on behalf of our clients.
We combine our experience litigating trusts and will dispute with our knowledge of California probate law to effectively represent clients. If you need to learn more about whether you can or should pursue trust and estate litigation, our lawyers can help you investigate the situation. Contact our skilled trust and estate lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can fight for your rights today.