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Serving Southern California

Trust Litigation

Are You Involved in Trust Dispute? – Facing Trust Litigation?

Mr. Davis will use his skills to negotiate for his clients outside the courtroom to save his clients the expense of trial.When a person sets up a trust for estate-planning purposes, he or she names a person called the “trustee” who is granted the power and responsibility to manage the assets held in the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Unfortunately, administration of a trust often results in disputes. Beneficiaries, or those who think that they should be a beneficiary, might choose to contest the validity of the trust, or whether the trust was properly drafted. Because many trusts are created from boiler plate files from various websites, or by unskilled or uninterested drafters who never really knew the people named as beneficiaries or never adequately verified or properly identified the assets that were to be transferred into the trust, there may significant “interpretation-issues” as to what the trust documents really mean or what the grantor really intended.

The appointed trustee may have risked or even depleted the trusts assets by investing them in risky ventures or by misappropriating them to his or her own use which is sometimes called “self-dealing.” Unlike Executors who administer a Probate, Trustees’ actions are not court supervised and trustees are allotted wide latitude to administer the trust assets, which may sometimes lead to misappropriation and mishandling of assets.  If you have a trust-related issue, it is imperative that your contact a Southern California Probate & Trust Litigation attorney immediately.

Typical Scenarios Where Trust Litigation May be Necessary

Validity of Trust – What determines the Validity of a Trust

Questions about the vitality of a Trust is common and are:

  1. conceptual uncertainty – where the language is unclear, something which leads to the trust being declared invalid.
  2. evidential uncertainty – where a question of fact, such as whether a claimant is a beneficiary, cannot be answered; this does not always lead to invalidity.
  3. ascertainability – where a beneficiary cannot be found.
  4. administrative unworkability – where the nature of the trust is such that it cannot realistically carried out.

Creditor Claims Against Trust. Third Party Creditor has a Claim to the Trust.

Vincent W. Davis & Associates is often called upon to assist creditors, professionals, and businesses make claims against deceased persons’ estate. This is quite common and necessary if the decedent incurred legitimate obligations prior to his or her death. While seemingly uncomfortable for a creditors such as an accountant, tax preparer, contractor, etc., such unpaid claims can involve large amounts of money and could affect or seriously harm the creditor. If you have a claim against a decedent’s estate, contact an experienced trust litigation attorney to review your case.

When the Trustee must defend the trust from Third Party Claims to the Trust.

If you are the Trustee, you have a Fiduciary Duty to defend the Trust should you consider a third party claim to be baseless, suspicious, or fraudulent. If you are facing a third party claimant, get some first hand legal advice from a skilled trust litigation lawyer at once.

When a Trustee (Fiduciary) must sue on behalf of the Trust to collect a claim owed to the Trust.

If the deceased person has outstanding receivables, many individuals will see the death as an opportunity to take advantage, or as a free pass to stop paying a legitimate debt. A Trustee has a duty to collect the debt if the net result has a good chance to benefit the Trust and Beneficiaries.

Trustee Wrongdoing – When Trustee fails to live up to Fiduciary Duties.

Trustee and Executor (Fiduciary) duties typically include:

  • Duty of loyalty to beneficiaries
  • Duty to avoid conflict of interest
  • Duty to avoid self-dealing
  • Duty to avoid conflicting personal interests
  • Duty to deal impartially among beneficiaries
  • Duty not to delegate but for necessary skills
  • Duty to use special skills when beneficial
  • Duty to disclosure
  • Duty to keep Trust assets separate and identified
  • Duty to enforce or defend claims
  • Duty to take control of and preserve property
  • Duty to make estate or trust property productive
  • Duty to insure property

If a Trustee or Estate’s Executor fails to meet one or more of these Fiduciary duties, then he or she may be subject to litigation to remove and replace them as a Trustee/Executor and for re-payment to the trust for any losses suffered due to the their “breach of fiduciary duty”.

When litigation is necessary to change the Trustee or persuade the Trustee.

Many upset and angry Beneficiaries want a Trustee “fired!” Depending on the size of the Trust, the financial investment that will be necessary for Trustee removal litigation may not make practical sense. Beneficiaries often feel ignored, abused or even cheated by the actions of a Trustee. In some of these situations, where a Trustee is a family member or “trusted old friend” of the decedent, beneficiaries don’t want a Trustee to go away mad — but they do want him or her gone! A skilled Trust Litigation attorney will not be successful or respected in their career if they don’t develop some people skills over the years of their career. Vincent W. Davis is known as a skilled and respected litigator who is known for his people-skills which are useful in the courtroom and more useful to his client’s wallets if he is successful in preventing cases ending up in a courtroom. Mr. Davis might be able to negotiate a Beneficiaries’ concerns subtly but forcefully such that the Trustee will stop and consider the consequences of failing to live up to his or her Fiduciary duties including the potential of a court-ordered re-payment of any loses to the Trust.

Trust Litigation on Behalf of Beneficiaries in Southern California

Trustees are often tasked with great responsibility over significant assets, including money, real estate and other real property held by the trust. If the trustee…

  • fails to effectively communicate with beneficiaries,
  • fails to carry out necessary and routine actions,
  • fails to manage real estate and other property,
  • fails to pay routine bills (such as mortgage payments, utility bills, miscellaneous bills),
  • fails to provide routine accountings,
  • sells off important sentimental property destined for a beneficiary,
  • sells real estate, vehicles or significant assets that need not have be liquidated,
  • liquidates assets at fire-sale prices,
  • gives, sells or otherwise transfers assets to friends or persons connected to the trustee,
  • takes money or assets for themselves, or
  • engages in outright theft,

…then any of these actions are not only “suspect” but can deprive the beneficiaries of their intended inheritance which is explicitly forbidden by statute and law. It is not uncommon that some trustees will stall, stonewall, or outright refuse to provide a regular accounting of money spent and property distributed during the administration of the trust. In addition to the obvious visible misconduct, it often comes to light after beneficiaries are successful at replacing a Trustee, that the new Trustee and beneficiaries then uncover that the prior Trustee had made risky or unwise investments with money from the trust.

Some people, when given unsupervised control over significant cash funds, real estate, and other assets (not their own), may get carried away, careless, or reckless to the detriment of the beneficiaries. Incompetence, errors, and the wrongdoing of Trustees means that beneficiaries may never receive the inheritance to which they were entitled.

Trustees have a Fiduciary Duty to Protect the Beneficiaries’ Interests

By statue and law, Trustees have a Fiduciary responsibility to administer trusts with care to see that the beneficiaries receive the maximum possible distribution to which they are entitled. That fiduciary responsibility includes regular communication, and providing clearly-discernible accountings from beginning to conclusion. Vincent W. Davis can help you with matters related to Trustee matters, trust disputes, trust litigation and will contests in California. If a Trustee is found to be administering a trust incompetently, or is acting in a manner inconsistent with Probate code such as acting in a manner which is: self-dealing, reckless, or outright criminal, we can assist you with removing such a Trustee, and in many cases, can force them to reimburse the trust or estate for their mistakes or wrongdoing. Vincent W. Davis fights for the rights of spouses, sons, daughters, and other beneficiaries so they can receive the full inheritance from their parents’ or loved-ones estate or trust.

Do You suspect that a Trust is Invalid?

How May a Trust be Invalid?

A trust may be found to be invalid on a number of grounds including, but not limited to:

  • The person establishing the trust may not have been of sound mind.
  • The person establishing the trust may have been deceived, intimidated or swayed by undue influence.
  • The person establishing the trust may have revoked it at a later date.
  • The trust document could be a forgery.

There are countless instances of trust fraud, invalid trust documents, grantors being deceived, grantors swayed by caregivers or others who uses “undue influence.” If this is your situation or you need to investigate your suspicions, contacting a skilled attorney familiar with such matters will be crucial moving forward. Vincent W. Davis will fully and diplomatically review your concerns and can then advised you as to the best course of action legally.

Experienced Trust Litigation Attorney serving Clients in Southern California

Vincent W. Davis is an experienced courtroom litigator, but when possible, prefers to use his skills to negotiate for his clients outside the courtroom to save his clients the expense of trial. Most people and many lesser-skilled attorneys will not want to face Mr. Davis in court and will often agree to an amicable settlement when faced with a skilled courtroom litigator. Mr. Davis represents all manner of trust litigation clients in Southern California including those with probate or trust matters in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. A typical trust litigation client may include anyone from a spouse, child, business partner, or other beneficiary or creditor.  Mr. Davis welcomes your call and will happily will meet with you to discuss your trust or estate-related matter and how he can help you.

Set Up a Day, Evening or Weekend Appointment Now

For assistance, please contact The Law Offices of Vincent W. Davis & Associates in Southern California for a complimentary consultation. Consultations are available in Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire including Riverside or San Bernardino Counties. We also handle California Probate and Estate matters for out of state individuals.

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Arcadia Office
150 N. Santa Anita Ave,
Suite 200
Arcadia, CA 91006
Phone: (626) 446-6442
Fax: (626)-446-6454

Beverly Hills Office
9465 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Phone: (310)-880-5733

La Mirada Office
Cerritos Towne Center
17777 Center Court Drive ,
Suite 600
Cerritos, California, 90703
Phone: 888-888-6542

Los Angeles Office
Gas Company Tower
555 West Fifth Street,
31st Floor
Los Angeles, California, 90013
Phone: (213)-400-4132

Long Beach Office
Landmark Square
111 West Ocean Blvd.,
Suite 400
Long beach, California, 90802

Irvine Office
Oracle Tower
17901 Von Karman Avenue,
Suite 600
Irvine, California, 92614
Phone: (949)-203-3971
Fax: (949)-203-3972

Ontario Office
Lakeshore Center
3281 E. Guasti Road,
7th Floor
City of Ontario, California, 91761

Riverside Office
Turner Riverwalk
11801 Pierce Street,
Suite 200
Riverside, California, 92505
Phone: (909)-996-5644

San Diego
Emerald Plaza
402 West Broadway,
Suite #400
San Diego, California, 92101
Phone: (619)-885-2070

Aliso Viejo
Ladera Corporate Terrace
999 Corporate Drive,
Suite 100
Ladera Ranch, California, 92694
Phone: (714) 721-3822