Trust Dispute FAQ

Trust disputes occur fairly often. Typically the dispute arises between the beneficiaries of a trust and the trustee – that is, the person appointed to manage it. The players in trust disputes are often family members, and their complicated relationships can come into play in trust litigation, making these complex and emotionally-charged matters. Since money, property, and other valuable assets are at stake, these legal battles are taken seriously and can be costly in both time and money for all those involved. Today we’re answering some of the most commonly answered questions about trust disputes. 

What are some of the common causes of disputes about trusts?

People often dispute the validity of a trust, such as whether the trustor was subject to fraud or undue influence, or lacked mental capacity to create the trust. Disputes can also arise when a beneficiary believes the trustee has breached their fiduciary duty by not fulfilling the directives of the trust, mismanaging funds, using the funds for his or her own self-interest, or commingling assets. Disputes also sometimes occur when either party attempts to make modifications to the original terms of the trust.

What if a trust contains ambiguous language?

Sometimes a trust can include confusing or contradictory language. This often occurs when a trust is created without an attorney’s guidance. Whether the trust needs to be revised or it’s contents handed over to beneficiaries will need to be decided in court.

Which California court handles trust disputes?

These matters are handled in state probate court.

Is there a timeline for contesting a trust?

Yes. A trust contest must be commenced within 120 days after a beneficiary is given notice by the trustee.

Who is entitled to receive a copy of a trust?

California law states that every trust beneficiary as well as every heir-at-law descendent of the trustor is entitled to receive a copy of the trust document. If you have not been given a copy, you can request one. 

Who can help me if I am involved in a dispute regarding a trust?

The Solan, Park & Robello team has experience in all aspects of estate planning and probate law, including trust disputes, and we would be happy to help you with these matters. We understand that the process of disputing a trust can be confusing, and we’re here to guide you along the way. We offer a free 15-minute phone consultation for new clients. Give us a call at (415) 777-3300 to schedule yours.

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Solan, Park & Robello

Solan, Park & Robello is a full-service probate and estate planning firm offering experienced counsel in a wide range of estate planning matters—from preparation to administration to litigation.

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