Trust and Probate Litigation

Breach of fiduciary duty

A fiduciary, such as a trustee or executor, is legally obligated to act in good faith and only in the best interest of beneficiaries. If they fail to exercise due diligence when it comes to executing their duties, they have breached their fiduciary duty which may warrant legal action. LEARN MORE

Petitions to remove a trustee or Objections to removal

A petition to remove a trustee is possible by going through the probate court or the trust instrument itself. The removal of a trustee may be done upon the petition of a settlor, co-trustee, or beneficiary under Section 17.200 of the California Probate Code. Any individual who objects to the removal of the trustee may file a form entitled “Objection to Petition to Remove Trustee.”

Letters of Administration Contests

Letters of Administration are legal documents issued by a probate court appointing a manager of the assets and liabilities of an estate. These documents are usually required when an individual dies without a will or “intestate.” Letters of Administration are issued in order to confirm that someone has the authority to take responsibility for the estate of a deceased individual. Financial institutions, government entities, and stock brokers typically require Letters of Administration before they will agree to release an asset to the administrator of the deceased’s estate.

Beneficiary Disputes

During the probate process, it is not uncommon for disagreements to arise between the trustee and the beneficiaries of a trust. Disputes between a trustee and one or more of the beneficiaries present a significant challenge. Some common areas of dispute among trustees and beneficiaries include not providing an accounting, breach of fiduciary duty, and interference with an expected inheritance. Resolving these types of disputes can be handled through litigation or Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) approaches, including arbitration or mediation. LEARN MORE

Heggstad Petition

In some situations, the grantor of a trust overlooks certain assets and/or fails to transfer assets into their trust for any number of reasons. Typically, those assets would have to go through probate before they are disbursed to beneficiaries. Filing a Heggstad Petition may allow the transfer of those assets directly into the trust, thereby bypassing probate. LEARN MORE