Trusts & Estate Litigation

Litigation over wills, trusts, Conservatorship, and elder abuse if full of complex rules and remedies. It is apparent and self evident that Trust and Probate matters can be complicated and may often be intertwined with emotions that may be a result of grief over loss of a loved one, lack of communication with a family member, or loss of trust in a fiduciary.  Probate Code §17002 provides generally that trustees and beneficiaries of trusts with their principal place of administration in the State of California are subject to jurisdiction of California’s probate courts. The probate court is given the broad power and responsibility to supervise and protect the administration of trusts within its jurisdiction. You need to talk to an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process and who understands how you feel.  We communicate constantly with out clients in an effort to achieve the best possible results while providing aggressive, high quality, and compassionate representation.  We make sure to be accessible to our clients and thorough in our preparation.  Our attorneys bring their years of experience to help resolve contentious and sensitive legal conflicts.

Certain times there are breaches of trust which require the removal of the trustee. Section 15642(a) of the Probate Code allows a trustee to be removed “by the court on its own motion, or on petition of a settlor, cotrustee, or beneficiary under Section 17200.” Section 15642(b)(1) of the Probate Code provides the grounds for removal of a trustee “[w]here the trustee has committed a breach of the trust.” Additionally, Probate Code §§ 17200(a) and 17200(b)(10) and 17200(b)(12) authorize the Court the authority.

The trustee is under a duty to diligently review the trust instrument and not to deviate from the terms of the trust. (Estate of Gilmaker (1962) 57 Ca1.2d 627.) The trustee "is bound to act in the highest good faith towards his beneficiary and
may not obtain any advantage by the slightest misrepresentation." (Estate of Wood (1953) 121 Cal.Ap.2d 252.) Probate Code section 16002 imposes a duty of loyalty on the trustee of any trust. Similarly, a trustee may not favor one beneficiary over another.

Under California Probate Code Section 16061.7, notice must be sent within 60 days of the death of a settlor and allows the recipient of the notice to request a copy of the trust. After receiving the mailed notice, the recipient has 120 days from the date of mailing to file a trust contest. If no contest is filed within a 120 days, then the notice recipient may forfeit their right to file a contest.

Always proceed with caution and consult an attorney as contesting the trust may be in violation of a "no contest clause" which would result in the beneficiary losing their inheritance.

  • Trust litigation encompasses a wide range of issues including:
  • Trust fraud
  • Undue influence
  • Breach of a fiduciary duty
  • Trust misappropriation and mismanagement
  • Questioning the validity of trusts with allegations of fraud, duress, undue influence, coercion, lack of capacity, proper trust formation, and diverting from the trustor's intent
  • Trustee failure to determine value of assets prior to sale
  • Trustee failure in annual accounting and reporting
  • Creditor claims
  • Lack of mental capacity
  • Failure to pay beneficiaries
  • Payment to wrong beneficiaries
  • Trust Accounting
  • Trust Administration 

Please contact our office today at 310-914-3222 from the greater Los Angeles area, 415-465-6566 from Northern California or 714-280-0601 from Orange County.  Our knowledgeable attorneys are ready serve your needs clients in Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Culver City, Encino, Glendale, Hidden Hills, Irvine, Los Angeles, Marin County, Malibu, Palo Alto, Playa Vista, San Francisco, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, Westlake Village and throughout Southern California.