Will and Trust Preparation, Litigation of Inheritance Disputes

We Represent Clients Throughout California

Preparation of Wills and Trusts

The establishment of a living trust with pour-over will, whether for an individual or a family, is the best practice for avoiding lengthy and costly probate proceedings and insuring continuity and financial privacy in estate planning.  It also helps avoid unnecessary taxes and can facilitate long-term management of various types of real or personal property.

Our firm provides reasonably priced legal services relating to all estate planning, including but not limited to the preparation of living trusts, pour-over wills, durable powers of attorney and advance health care directives, as well as trust administration and probate proceedings.

It is important for all families with children to establish an estate plan that includes a revocable trust (and pour-over will) with provisions designed to protect the interests of the children and this should be done even when the family is young and size of the estate is small.  Over time the estate will grow and there will be need for changes to be made.  It is imperative for mature families to have this type of estate plan in place.  When there are adult children, and in later life, it is essential that there exist an adequate plan to avoid confusion and chaos in the event of the passing of the most elderly members of the family.

The term "revocable trust" refers to a legal entity created by a trust document signed by the settlor.  The settlor, also known as the trustor, is the person establishing the trust.  Property can be transferred by the settlor into the trust without any loss of control over the property.  In the context of a typical husband and wife scenario, the trust may be amended or revoked during the lifetimes of the couple, for example, in the case of a divorce.  However, the ability to revoke the trust ends when either the husband or wife dies, at which time, the trust cannot be revoked as to the decedent’s share of the trust property.  The surviving spouse retains the ability to revoke the trust only as to the survivor's property.  At the survivor's death, the trust cannot be amended or revoked.  Revocable trusts are structured to take advantage of the tax laws, in such a way as to eliminate or minimize taxes that are levied upon the death of the settlors.  A key advantage of revocable trusts is that there is no requirement for Probate Court proceedings and the financial privacy of the family can be protected.  For this reason, revocable trusts are a far more economical way to handle estate planning.

Inheritance Dispute Litigation

Legal Disputes over Wills or Trusts often arise when family members who have drifted apart disagree over how the property of departed parents should be allocated or managed. Emotions often run high and sometimes, these disputes result in lasting turmoil that permanently harms the family structure. Attorneys providing assistance in such a dispute must be sensitive to the potential for hurt feelings and at the same time, fight to ensure the best possible outcome for their clients. With this in mind, often times mediation provides a mechanism for an outcome that results in the least amount of harm to permanent family relationships.

Wills and trusts may be improperly disputed by individuals who feel unfairly excluded from long sought after financial benefits. On the other hand, people sometimes make decisions about their estates while in conditions of Physical Infirmity or Emotional Confusion, when they are not truly Competent to decide such important matters.

In the worst case scenario, unscrupulous or self-serving people holding a position of trust or confidence can pressure an elderly and infirm person to make bequests that do not reflect his or her true desires. This is called the exercise of Undue Influence and it is a basis to set aside the bequest or transfer. Special rules and protections exist when testamentary gifts are made to custodial care givers, drafters of the will or trust, or attorneys involved, that may act to invalidate such transfers.

In will and trust dispute cases it may be necessary to closely review medical and financial records in order to determine whether or not a will or trust was signed under improper or suspicious circumstances, so as to justify legal action by the affected heirs. Questions may arise of Lack of Capacity on the part of the signor due to Dementia or Senility. On the other hand, a No Contest Clause may mean that an unsuccessful challenge will result in a forfeiture of rights under a Will or Trust. These are serious issues that require caution and diligence.

Our firm has represented excluded heirs in lawsuits seeking additional compensation from Probate proceedings and defended heirs against such claims in Court. If you have doubts about whether you may have a valid claim against the estate of a deceased family member, or if you are the subject of a lawsuit designed to set aside a transfer to you by a someone who has passed away, please feel free to email or call with your question.

We represent family members and beneficiaries who believe that a trustee, executor or administrator has engaged in fraudulent or dishonest conduct in the administration of a will or trust. 

Please feel free to give us a call at (858) 259-7790 or contact us online.

Learn More About:

  • Do You Need A Certificate of Independent Review?
  • Are You Being Disrespected and Possibly Cheated by a Trustee You Do Not Trust?  If So, You Need an Experienced Trust Litigation Lawyer on Your Team
  • Are You Being Kept in the Dark by A Hostile or Indifferent Trustee (Who is an Estranged Relative)?
  • My Father Put His Paid Caregiver into His Will and Trust. Is that Legal?
  • Why Should You, as the Executor or Trustee, Consider Settling a Claim of Undue Influence or Fraud?
  • Can A Will or Trust Dispute Be Settled Quietly Without Hiring a Lawyer and Going to Probate Court?
  • Are You a Beneficiary of a Trust That Has Been Mismanaged So As To Suffer Huge Losses?
  • Wonder Why Your Parent Disinherited You?  Review Their Estate Planning Attorney's Records!
  • What is a Guardian or Conservator?
  • Is A Family Member in Control? Need To Know Your Inheritance Rights?
  • Probate Litigation - What Assets are At Risk?
  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity
  • Who Are the Clients of a Will and Trust Dispute Attorney?
  • Has A Family Member Lied About You or "Poisoned the Well" Resulting in Your Disinheritance?
  • I Think the Trustee of Our Family Trust Is Engaging In Misconduct. What Can Be Done?

  • Forced to Battle Your Step Mother Simply for the Sake of Fairness?
  • Have Distant Relations Seized Control of an Elderly Family Member in Order to Steal Their Estate? Take Action Now Before it is Too Late!
  • Suspect Your Sister (Brother) Is Living the Good Life with Your Inheritance While You "Work to Make Ends Meet"? 
  • What are the Duties of a Hostile or Unfriendly Trustee?
  • Did Your Father (Mother) Pass On, Leaving Everything to Your Greedy Stepmother (Stepfather)?
  • Alert! Major Changes Made to California Will and Trust Contest Law Effective January 1, 2010
  • Mom or Dad Want to Compensate You For Caring For Them, But Don't Want a Battle Later?
  • Suspect Your Aged Parent Lacked Mental Capacity When You Were Disinherited? Review Their Medical Records!
  • What is a Certificate of Independent Review?
  • What is Conservatorship or Fiduciary Fraud?
  • Disputes Over Control of the Estate By An Executor of a Will
  • My Brother (Sister) Pressured My Mother To Disinherit Me. Is that Legal?
  • Disinherited Under "Suspicious Circumstances?"
  • What is a "Direct" Will or Trust Contest?
  • What is an "Indirect" Will or Trust Contest?

  • Will and Trust FAQs | Will and Trust Glossary