Los Angeles Trust & Estate Attorneys - The Law Offices of Nigel Burns

Los Angeles Trust and Estate Attorneys

Learn How to Protect Your Rights. Speak to Our Trust Litigation Lawyers in Los Angeles

Probate litigation is an area of the law that deals with disputes over the estate of a person who has passed away. Oftentimes estate disputes are handled in a probate court with the help of a family law attorney in Los Angeles.

The probate court handles the process of transferring the legal title of property from the estate of a person who has passed away to his or her beneficiaries. While some cases make it through the probate procedure smoothly, disputes often arise. If you find yourself involved in a dispute over the estate of someone who has passed, the best path to assure that your legal rights are protected is through an experienced attorney for trust litigation in LA. The downside with probate is that it can be a procedural nightmare, even for attorneys, if they are inexperienced in handling probate cases.

The good thing about probate is that in certain circumstances it can be avoided. For instance, when a deceased person leaves all his/her assets in a living trust, the trust, and any disputes regarding it avoid probate. This is also true for life insurance, which escapes the probate courts. If an individual leaves an estate of less than $150,000, California provides “simplified procedures for transferring the property. Regardless of whether your estate dispute is settled in probate court or not, the best path to assure that your legal rights are protected is through an experienced attorney for trust and probate litigation.

At the Law Offices of Nigel Burns, our family court lawyers in LA are well versed in the Probate Code and are experienced in litigating in probate court. A large part of our practice is dedicated to elder law, family law, and business litigation, three areas of the law where probate disputes are common. As a result, our LA probate attorneys have gained extensive experience with probate court procedures and have consistently obtained favorable results for our clients. If you believe that your legal dispute may involve a person who is deceased, call our law office today; initial consultations over the phone are free!

Common Trust and Probate Disputes

The following are common legal disputes involving trusts, wills, estates, and probate litigation:

  • Financial Elder Abuse
  • Will Contests
  • Trust Contests
  • Undue Influence Claims
  • Beneficiary claims
  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Estate Mismanagement
  • Family Disputes
  • Questions Regarding the Validity of a Will
  • Trustees’/Executors’ Accounts
  • Trustee removal
  • Breach of Contract and Fraud Claims

What Are Some of the Differences in Probate Court?

As we mentioned, California Probate Courts have their own set of rules and procedures, in addition to the general California Rules of Civil Procedures. Here are a few of the unique aspects of a probate court.

 No Jury Trials

In probate court, a judge, rather than a jury hears disputes, aside from some elder abuse matters and conservatorship proceedings. the benefit of having a judge decide your case is twofold. The solutions judges can issue, and their overall discretion are limited under state law. The downside to having a judicial resolution is that judges tend to have very little patience for litigants who do not follow probate court procedures.

No Contest Clauses

This clause is commonly found in wills and is meant to deter unnecessary litigation and frivolous lawsuits. the way it works is that if someone challenges a will, and the court rules against them, and rules that their claim was not made in good faith, they are essentially excluded from the will altogether; the court treats them as deceased.

Forms, Deadlines, and More Forms

Another important difference with Probate Court is heavy, some would say excessive, use of judicial counsel forms, and unique deadlines. Part of the complication here is that the probate courts are governed by several sets of laws, including the Probate Code, Local Rules, and Code of Civil Procedure. To complicate matters further, judges seldom have patience for litigants who are unfamiliar with the court's procedures. That is why it is important to have an experienced attorney if you are involved in a probate dispute.

Mental Capacity Standards in California

Mental capacity is the most important factor that should be considered when it comes to declaring a will and trust. Depending on the trustee’s mental state, others may be able to influence or manipulate someone into giving away their estate. Trust and probate litigation often control thousands, if not millions, of dollars worth of assets, and these matters are overly complex. Standards are contingent on each individual situation, which is why the services of a knowledgeable estate litigation attorney are so often needed.

Contesting A Will

When you negate the terms and conditions of your will and naming beneficiaries to your estate you may do so with the assumption this will remove the possibility of questions regarding the inheritance of money or property. However, that is not always the case as you find that not everyone will agree to your decision. Contesting a will can be long, difficult, and expensive. As you plan toward the future you should consider retaining an attorney. In this article, we further explain the process of contesting a will.

Estate Planning When You’re Elderly or Ill

Estate planning is a great way to protect your possessions and designating who will receive them and take over your responsibilities in the event of your death or incapacitation. Estate planning requires official, legal documentation to be notarized to verify its authenticity. Many choose to have an estate litigation lawyer serve as their notary. We strive to help our clients safeguard their tangible and intangible possessions. Some assets you shouldn’t overlook include:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Retirement funds
  • Ownership of a business

Living Trust FAQ

When you work hard to build up an estate, you want to ensure your accomplishments are protected in the event you were to pass away. When you sign a living trust, the money, and assets you have accumulated are distributed according to your wishes. Whether you want to leave your estate to a loved one or family member, a family lawyer can help you establish a living trust. The arrangement itself is when a trustee controls and manages assets on behalf of a beneficiary. It is possible for you to be the trustee and keep full control over the property held in trust. You can also appoint someone to fulfill this role or act as a co-trustee on your behalf If you have questions regarding the process, including what to expect refer to this article for the top FAQs.

 What is a Living Trust? 

If you want to help certain loved ones get a good start in life, you can control and manage your assets on behalf of future beneficiaries through a living trust. It is possible for you to be the trustee and keep full control over the property held in trust. In addition, a living trust saves your family much of the probate litigation that will follow your death. 

Who Needs a Living Trust?

Our attorneys will recommend getting a living trust only for those with assets with a high financial value. Paying an attorney to help you establish a stable living trust can be costly, so it’s not recommended for those with modest assets and finances. 

Will I Save Money on Estate Taxes?

A basic living trust will have no effect on the state or federal taxes that you pay. Only those estates worth more than $11 million will owe federal estate tax. Unless your estate is worth more than this, you will not save anything.

And on the subject of taxes, you should know that a living trust does not normally need its own Tax Identification Number while you, the grantor, are still alive. You can use your own social security number when you need to identify the trust or pay taxes on it. A successor trustee will get a separate identification number from the IRS to pay the trust’s taxes.

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