Santa Clara | Hackard Law | California Estate & Probate Litigation

When Do You Need a Santa Clara Trust Litigation Lawyer?

Trusts are an extremely common way for people to transfer assets to others at the ends of their lives, and it is easy to understand why. When a person uses a will to dispose of assets, the estate must go through a process known as probate, which can prove long and complicated, and cost the estate a significant amount of money in fees. On the other hand, using a trust to transfer assets to beneficiaries avoids probate, as the transfer takes place immediately on the occurrence of some specified event.

While trusts transfer assets to beneficiaries with as few complications as possible, sometimes challenges do come up. The reality is that serious issues can arise during the administration of a trust, some of which could result in significant financial consequences for the people involved. Many people with an interest in a trust wonder whether they need to retain an attorney, and the answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. Below are common reasons why your best interests would argue for retaining a trust litigation attorney. For more information or to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced elder law attorney, call Hackard Law today at 916-313-3030 or send us an email through our online contact for.

You Believe the Trust is the Product of Undue Influence or Fraud

Financial elder abuse is a pervasive issue in California and throughout the rest of the country. In fact, the National Adult Protective Services Association indicates that one in nine seniors reported neglect, abuse, or exploitation during the past year. Undue influence and fraud are two types of financial exploitation that can result in a trust with terms that do not reflect the intentions of the testator (the individual who purportedly created the trust).

Undue influence occurs when a person in a position of trust manipulates a vulnerable individual in a way that achieves an inequitable result. For example, if a caretaker recognized that an older adult was experiencing mental decline and convinced that person to amend the trust, courts might deem it an exercise of undue influence. Fraud occurs when a person uses deception to achieve financial gain—such as amending the terms of a trust document without the testator’s knowledge.

If you suspect that either fraud or undue influence was responsible for the creation of a trust or its terms, call an attorney right away.

You Believe the Testator Lacked the Mental Capacity to Create the Trust

It is no secret that mental acuity can decline with age. This issue often arises in trust and estate litigation, as people often make changes to their trusts or wills later in life, and the law requires a certain level of mental capacity to execute these kinds of documents. Mere mental decline is not sufficient to establish that a person lacked the capacity to form a trust, making trust disputes in which capacity is an issue complicated. While a court can consider issues like memory loss, confusion, emotional problems, or dementia, none are definitive as to the issue of testamentary capacity. For this reason, if you are involved in this type of dispute, retain an attorney familiar with estate litigation who will present your case in the best light possible to the court.

You Suspect the Trustee is Acting Unlawfully or in Self-Interest

A trustee has fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries of the trust. This means that, among other things, the trustee should always act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, use reasonable care when managing trust assets, and not commingle personal and trust assets. In some cases, however, trustees breach these duties by engaging in self-interest or other improper behavior. There is a particular risk for this type of conduct in cases in which a trustee is also a beneficiary of a trust. Common examples of conduct that would likely breach the fiduciary duty owed by a trustee include failing to distribute trust assets in a timely manner, not performing the duties required of a trustee, or breaching the terms of the trust. In cases like these, trust beneficiaries should retain an experienced lawyer.

You and Another Beneficiary Disagree About the Interpretation of the Terms of the Trust

Disputes between trust beneficiaries are unfortunately common, especially in cases in which bad blood exists between family members or when a trust contains unclear or ambiguous terms. If you are in a situation in which you and another trust beneficiary have a disagreement regarding the terms of the trust, retain legal counsel right away. You do not need to face active litigation to retain an attorney. In fact, in many cases, the representation of a lawyer can help avoid litigation entirely by helping negotiate an out of court settlement that all parties to the dispute find amenable.

Call Hackard Law Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Trust Litigation Attorney in Santa Clara, California

If you are involved in a dispute regarding the administration of a trust or have suspicions that the terms of a trust were the product of a lack of mental capacity, undue influence, or any other issue that may invalidate the trust, speak to an attorney as soon as you can. Hackard Law emphasizes trust litigation and our lawyers are committed to obtaining the most favorable results possible in each case we take. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you and advise you as to whether we believe you have a claim. We often take trust litigation cases on a contingency fee basis or employ alternative fee arrangements. To schedule a no-obligation case evaluation with a Santa Clara trust litigation attorney, send us an email through our online contact form or call our office today at 916-313-3030.

Attorney Michael Hackard

Attorney Michael HackardMichael Hackard is a top rated “AV” for over 20 years (“AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment- a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.”). Avvo also ranks him with their highest rating – “ 10.0 Rating – ‘Superb.’” Michael is also a “SuperLawyer” – an honor reserved for no more than five percent of attorneys in each state. [ Attorney Bio ]

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