Can a Living Trust Be Contested?

Law Office of Geoffrey Fong Oct. 25, 2023

Living trust document, pen, glasses and calculator on deskMany individuals often establish living trusts – as part of their comprehensive estate plan – to preserve assets, property, and money for beneficiaries and future generations. However, when the trustor dies, disputes and disagreements may occur between surviving family members and beneficiaries regarding the provisions and validity of the trust documents, how the trustee managed the trust property, or the trust administration process. When this happens, you're within your rights to contest the living trust. 

The Law Office of Geoffrey Fong proudly guides clients through the complex procedures involved in contesting living trusts. Attorney Geoffrey Fong is available to discuss your unique circumstances, determine whether you have valid grounds to contest your deceased loved one's living trusts, and help file your petition. The firm proudly serves clients across Rocklin, Citrus Heights, Folsom, and Roseville, California. 

What Is a Living Trust?

A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that permits a person (the grantor, settlor, or trustor) to grant legal duty and authority to someone else (the trustee or successor trustee) who will help manage trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. A trust created when the trustor is still alive is referred to as a living trust. 

Types of Living Trusts

In the state of California, a living trust may be revocable or irrevocable trusts. 

Revocable Living Trust 

In a revocable living trust, a granter can amend, terminate, or revoke the living trust at any time. Once funded, the grantor will retain total control of the trust during their lifetime. As a result, assets put into the revocable living trust are not exempt from estate taxes. Upon the trustor's death or sudden incapacitation, the trustee will distribute trust assets to rightful beneficiaries. 

Irrevocable Living Trust 

An irrevocable living trust is a living trust that the trustor cannot amend, revoke, or cancel without the named beneficiary's permission. Once the irrevocable living trust is funded, the trustor will relinquish control over the trust assets. Hence, the trust property would be exempted from estate taxes. 

Can a Living Trust Be Contested?

Yes, you can contest a living trust. To contest a trust in California, you will file a petition against the trust or trustee in court. This initiates a legal process for the court to evaluate the provisions and terms of the living trust and determine whether they should invalidate it. However, only individuals who have or should have a claim to the trust can contest it. Also, there must be a legal ground to contest the trust. 

Eligibility for Contesting a Living Trust

However, not just anyone can file a petition to contest a living trust. According to California laws, only individuals who have a legal "standing" in the trust dispute may be eligible to contest it. These include: 

  • Beneficiaries of the living trust. 

  • Heirs or heir-at-law who were disadvantaged or disinherited by the trust. 

  • Other individuals with valid legal grounds. 

A dedicated estate planning attorney can evaluate your unique situation, determine your eligibility to contest the trust, and help decide the next line of action. 

Valid Grounds to Contest a Living Trust

Here are some valid grounds or reasons to contest a living trust in the state of California: 

  • Undue influence, fraud, or duress 

  • Forgery 

  • Defective execution 

  • Mental incapacity 

  • Multiple contradictory documents 

  • Improperly signed or witnessed trust

  • Trustee misappropriation or wastage of trust funds or property

  • Breach of fiduciary duties by the trustee

A skilled attorney can investigate every aspect of your case, decide if you have valid grounds to contest the trust, and help file your petition. 

Understand Your Options for Protecting Your Assets

Contesting a living trust in California often involves various complex procedures. Attorney Geoffrey Fong has devoted his career to handling trust administration matters and representing family members and beneficiaries who wish to contest their loved one's living trust. 

As your attorney, he can investigate every aspect of your case and help file a petition to contest the validity or enforceability of the trust. In addition, he will advocate for your best interest, represent you intelligently at every phase of the legal process, and attempt to recover your rightful inheritance. 

Contact the Law Office of Geoffrey Fong today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a seasoned estate planning lawyer. Attorney Geoffrey Fong can handle your case diligently and improve your chances of achieving the most favorable outcome. The firm proudly serves clients across Rocklin, Citrus Heights, Folsom, and Roseville, California.