What to Know About Contesting a Trust - Probate Litigation | Burns Law

Everything You Need to Know About Contesting a Trust

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There are instances when a will can be contested. A trust can also be contested depending on the circumstances. To contest a trust, you should procure the services of our trust litigation lawyers in Los Angeles. After successfully contesting a trust, it can be modified. In some instances, it can also be eliminated through the help of a California family law attorney.

About Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement that has been documented. A person can name another individual such that they will be in charge of their estate on behalf of the third person. The individual in charge of making the trust is known as a settlor. The person who has been chosen to safeguard the estate is known as the trustee. The individual who is gaining from the trust is known as the beneficiary. The settlor will come up with the terms of how the property will be managed. The role of the trustee is to fulfill the instructions that have been outlined in the trust. The trustee is in the form of a fiduciary, and they owe the beneficiary some legal duties.


Before modifying or terminating the trust, the person who has requested these changes should have a proper standing. As for trusts, the individual contesting the trust is mainly the beneficiary. The criteria of contesting the trust are quite different from the one used to contest a will. Some limitations are present, and the trust cannot be contested within a specified period. In some states, the trust can only be contested within three years after the settlor has passed away. Before contesting the trust, the beneficiary should liaise with a family law attorney.


Some trusts have a provision that states whether the beneficiary can contest the trust or not. When the beneficiary contests the trust, they may be forced to forfeit the portion they were entitled to initially. Nevertheless, some states have enacted laws that are invalidating these provisions. Estate litigation attorneys in Los Angeles are in a better position to shed light on such an issue. They will oversee the entire process and ensure that justice has been served.

There are different reasons why a trust may be modified, terminated, or contested. Some of these reasons include:

If a trust is revocable, the grantor can be modified as they wish. There are instances where the grantor dies, and in such a situation, the trust will be irrevocable. There are some reasons why the beneficiary may no longer desire the trust, including:

The Trust May Fail to Reflect the Wishes of the Settlor

The beneficiary of the trust may claim that the settlor was under a particular influence while they were creating the trust. The allegations may point towards fraud or coercion. Undue influence alleges typically that the individual who is set to benefit from the trust may have subjected the settlor to certain forms of pressure while they were signing the trust. Such an occurrence is possible primarily if the individual benefitting from the trust had withheld some resources such that they will be separated from other members of the family. As for fraud, it can occur when a person goes ahead and signs the trust without knowing the specific document they were signing. If such an action turns out to be true, the trust can be terminated by the court.

The beneficiary may also claim that the trust does not align with the real wishes of the settlor since they may have lacked the capacity to come up with a trust. If the settlor fails to understand the provisions that have been listed in the trust, the trust can be terminated in an instance whereby the settlor may not have been mentally stable at the time they were creating the trust. The trust and estate attorneys at our firm may weigh in on the matter, and the trust may be terminated on the grounds the settlor was mentally incapacitated.

The Trust May Fail to Serve Its Purpose

There are instances whereby the settlor may have come up with a trust; however, the current reality may prevent the trust from serving its initial purpose; this usually occurs when the beneficiary is receiving little or no gains from the trust. The trust will cost more to administer as compared to what the beneficiaries should receive. The trust will contain language that will allow the trust to be terminated with the help of Los Angeles trust litigation lawyers. The trust can only be abolished when the beneficiary weighs in on the matter. Also, the beneficiary should be willing to work hand in hand with a family law attorney.

The Language Present in the Trust is Ambiguous

There are instances whereby the language present in the trust may be subject to being interpreted in a different manner by the trustee and the beneficiary. In such a situation, the beneficiary may contest the trust with the help of estate dispute lawyers.

The beneficiary may contest the trust such that the trust will be terminated or modified. The court will then provide a declaratory judgment of the true intentions of the settlor. 

If the court is tasked with determining the true intentions of the settlor, the trust will remain in its original state. Nevertheless, if the language is ambiguous, the court will have to attempt to find out the true intents of the settlor. The court will have to look into the personal history between the beneficiaries and the grantor. After that, the court will be in a position to determine the manner in which the trust will be treated, depending on the true intentions of the settlor.

Legal Assistance

As the beneficiary, you may express an interest in contesting the trust. In such an instance, you will be tasked with showing the court some of the reasons why the trust should be terminated or modified. Before you decide to settle the issue in a court of law, you should seek the legal counsel of trust and estate attorneys. Make sure the attorney you have hired is well experienced. Also, they should be capable of handling complicated tasks.

The lawyer will explain the options and rights of the individual regarding bringing forth a petition that is meant to contest the trust. The attorney should be conversant with trust and estate litigation.

Our attorneys are experts in civil litigation, ensuring that your lawsuit brings you the most favorable results. Our attorneys can help litigate: 

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