Trust Litigation

The grounds for a trust contest are similar to those of a will contest as noted in the section on will contests. However, the dispositive testamentary instrument at issue is a revocable living trust instead of a will. Trust contests come in many varieties. Sometimes there is an eve of death amendment. Occasionally, there is a revocation of a longstanding trust in favor of a new trust created late in life. Often, a beneficiary, such as a natural child, is cut out as a beneficiary after another family member or caregiver has assumed the primary care giving role for the elder. Some gifts to caregivers or attorneys may be deemed presumptively invalid under the terms of the probate code in California. Another common scenario in trust litigation involves the breach of trust by a trustee who violates his or her fiduciary duties owed to other beneficiaries of the trust. The probate code, besides establishing a general standard of care for trustees, enumerates many specific duties owed by trustees to beneficiaries. The breach of these statutory duties constitutes a breach of trust. Trust litigation may also involve the removal of the faithless fiduciary by some other beneficiary. It may also seek the surcharge of the fiduciary who has inappropriately taken money or property.