California Trust Litigation: 5 Factors to Bear in Mind
- June 3, 2016 - Trust Litigation,
Are you about to challenge or contest a trust in a Superior Court in California? Whether you are filing in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Alameda, Santa Clara or Orange, then you should consider your battle plan. Have you retained a California trust attorney and opened the case? Before you get started, here are five things that you might consider.
- Statutes of Limitation.If a beneficiary receives a trustee notice, they may have as little as 120 days in California on filing certain kinds of claims against a will or trust (CA Probate Code 16061.7). California courts do not favor those who delay. If you can “smell the coffee” and see that something is wrong, you may want to engage a lawyer and start making an effort at securing your rights.
- Payment. Do you know how you are going to pay your CA trust litigator? In general, there are three different approaches to payment. A flat fee is easy to explain but extremely difficult to negotiate. A flat fee may bring certainty, but it it also brings risk – estate litigation can be somewhat unpredictable – it is hard to put a flat fee arrangement on a litigated matter. An hourly fee is often used – it is straightforward but can create anxiety. Just how much is this lawsuit going to cost? Contingency fees are also available in California probate, estate and trust litigation. Whatever fee approach is taken, it is a point of discussion between you and your attorney.
- A Plan of Attack. Don’t just go in assuming that your search of the Internet gave you a bullet-proof theory of challenge or contest. You need to have a game plan before going to court – it might be a game plan that changes with circumstances – but it is still important to start with a game plan. Is this a case about capacity? Undue influence? Fraud? Forgery? Whatever the issue, have a plan of attack.
- Decide if you want a jury. You have a right to a California jury for any action that is “at law” but not for equitable matters. This is an area that even challenges lawyers. This is something that takes thought and legal knowledge. Under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, plaintiffs can request a jury trial. Many California Will and Trust litigators like those of us at Hackard Law favor a jury when possible.
- Gather the documents. This is a matter of homework. We prepare a timeline for every case that we are engaged. This timeline depends upon good information. Good information is dependent upon supporting documents when there are supporting documents. We can address this in more detail in a meeting.
At Hackard Law we prioritize protecting client interests above all other factors. We’re effective at what we do because we’re focused on your well-being. I’ve been working in estate, trust and probate litigation for over 40 years, and I lead a team that’s top caliber in both ethics and professional excellence. Want to learn more? Call us at (916) 313-3030.