Estate and Trust Litigation
Los Angeles & Orange County Estate and Trust Litigation
There are numerous situations in which the executor of an estate, trustee or the beneficiaries of an estate or trust may become involved in litigation. Whether you are the executor of an estate, a trustee, a beneficiary or a third-party claimant you will need representation to be successful in any estate or trust litigation. Estate and trust litigation is complex, and the applicable laws can be found under the probate code, civil code, code of civil procedure et al.
Estate & Trust Litigation Overview:
Typically, in estate ligation the executor of an estate will be faced with claims against the estate’s property made by third parties who are not beneficiaries of the estate. These third-party claims will likely involve disputes which existed between the decedent and the third party prior to the decedent’s passing. In rare cases these claims may involve continuation of litigation which existed between the third party and the decedent prior to passing.
In addition to third party claims an executor may also be faced with estate litigation which is initiated by a beneficiary of the estate. Executor’s are often sued based on the beneficiaries claim(s) that the executor breached their fiduciary duty(s). The fiduciary duties of an executor include the requirements a) to provide timely information to the beneficiaries, b) to manage the estate assets in a prudent manner, c) to evaluate the legal requirements for making payments out of the estate’s funds and d) to refrain from acting if there is a conflicting interest. Above all an executor owes a duty of loyalty to the beneficiaries of an estate and must ensure that all beneficiaries are equally protected. In fulfilling the executor’s duty of loyalty, they must ensure that the lawful terms set forth in the Will are carried out exactly as specified in the Will.
Trust litigation also involves a trustee being sued by a third party claimant or a beneficiary. A trustee like an executor owes a supreme duty of loyalty to the beneficiaries of the trust and may be forced to litigate to protect the beneficiaries from erroneous or doubtful claims. A trustee’s fiduciary duties are typically similar to the those of an executor but may differ according to statutes or the terms specified by the trust instrument. A trust may alter, omit or added to most of the fiduciary duties set forth by statute.
If you are an executor or trustee or considering becoming a fiduciary, you should have legal representation to protect yourself from personal liability. A fiduciary is personally liable for all errors or omissions which result in a violation of the terms of the Will or Trust and cause harm to the beneficiaries’ interests.
If you are a beneficiary of an estate or trust your rights are set forth by statute and/or may be specified by the Will or Trust instrument. If you believe that an executor or trustee is not administering the estate or trust in a lawful manner or has made a financially harmful error or omission you have options to enforce your rights and should contact the Law Office of Sam Walker immediately.
Our Approach to Estate & Trust Litigation
At the Law Office of Sam Walker, we provide zealous representation in a caring individualized manner. Your attorney will be available to you directly and you will not be forced to call a secretary or paralegal with your questions. You will have direct access to the attorney who will be handling your case throughout your estate planning or litigation matter. If you have any questions your attorney will respond to your call within 24 hours.