A trust contest is a formal objection based on the contention that the existing document does not accurately reflect the intent of the settlor (person who made the trust).
Trust contests have multiple forms including:
- Proceedings to challenge the validity of a trust
- To interpret stipulated trust provisions
- To enforce constructive trusts on express trust assets
- To include or exclude beneficiaries
Contesting a Trust in California
Contesting the terms of a trust can be complex, and requires the initiative of the contestant. Trusts and the actions of trustees can be challenged in California courts if the person contesting the trust files a petition to start the court process. This is in contrast to a will contest.
Similar to the grounds for contesting a will, a trust may be contested based on, but not limited to, any of the following grounds:
- Lack of capacity
- Undue influence
A trust may include a "no contest" clause with language to the effect of "any person who contests this trust shall forfeit his or her right to receive anything under the trust." Ironically, because this clause is within the trust, a successful challenge would render the clause meaningless.
A Los Angeles trust litigation lawyer is a vital asset when filing a contest petition. The proceedings will often get very emotional as people mourn the loss of a loved one and fight for what he or she spelled out in his or her trust.
Successfully Challenging a Trust
Most trust contest petitions are difficult to win as the policy of legislature and the court system is to honor the intent of the trustor as they, as third parties, deem fit. A successful trust challenge will prove that the trustor lacked the mental capacity to understand the details and subsequently sign the trust document.
Medical records are a great source of evidence but it is not unheard of for there to be no medical record of the decedent's mental state toward the end of his or her life or during the time the trust was written. This makes it that much more crucial that a Los Angeles lawyer be present to help you negotiate the terms of the trust.
Need assistance with contesting the terms of a trust or a trustee's actions? Contact our firm at your earliest convenience.
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