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3 Things to Consider When Challenging a Trust in California

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Stevenson Law Office

Complex Probate AdministrationChallenging a trust or a will in the state of California is a rare occurrence. That’s why when it happens, beneficiaries are confused as to what to do in this kind of situation. As dealing with all the legal procedures, contesting a trust needs a lot of patience, resources, and dealing with stress. Before deciding to challenge a trust, here are three things you should consider.

When Should You Challenge A Trust?

Challenging a trust in California is a bit different than in other states. It has added procedures that might drain down your resources, your time, and your relationship with your family, especially if the other party in play are your siblings. Incidents that make the trust invalid, makes the entire situation more stressful.  Here are the three most common reasons why a trust is challenged.

  1. Undue Influence or Fraud

As sad as it is, the reality of fraud or undue influence on passing down estate are true in real life. People take advantage of an elderly’s mental or physical state to manipulate the creation and the content of a trust. When the family of the deceased think that the trust was done under undue influence or fraud, they should contest the validity of the trust or will with solid evidence.

  1. State of Mental and Physical Health

You have to be 18 years of age to legally make a trust or will. However, because most people usually accumulate their estate later on in life, it is common for the elderly to make their trusts or wills at this time. After all, they would want to experience the things that they accumulated throughout their hard work. However, if the trustee has mental health conditions, or are under any type of substance abuse, the legality of the trust might be contested. This is possible unless the elderly has proven to be of sound mind before death.

  1. The Trustee Has Multiple Wills

Multiple wills can exist if the trustee tried to create or improve a new will. This is possible when the trustee tried to update their estate plan in the past. The new trust or will is considered to be a legal document, and therefore, will be superior to the old one. However, in order for it to take precedence, the new document must get approved or validated before it can be used to contest a trust.

How Long Should You Wait Before Challenging A Trust?  

A person can start challenging a trust in California after the Trustee has given notice to the will’s beneficiaries. After the notice has been given, a 120-day contested period begins. This is the only period where a trust can be questioned. After this date, even if the contest has strong evidence of invalidity, the beneficiary would be barred from contesting the trust forever.  If the beneficiary requests a copy of the trust document, the 120-day period can be extended.

The California Trust Law

As we can see, the California Trust law is a very complicated matter. After all, only 1% of trusts or wills are contested, and the rest go through probate without any problems. Therefore, it is a wise idea to call for a Trust lawyer if you ever need to contest a Trust or will. This is especially true if you think that fraud or undue influence, forgery, or limited mental capacity is at play. A trust lawyer will help you assess your chances in winning the case.