Contested Trusts

As with Wills, the terms of a Trust may be contested, if you have legal “standing” to file a Petition with the Court, meaning that you are an “interested party.”  

A person needs “testamentary capacity” to execute a Will.  To execute a Trust, a person typically needs to have a different level of understanding.  California Probate Code section 810 indicates that:

There is a rebuttable presumption that all persons have the capacity to make decisions and to be responsible for their acts or decisions.

 A person who has a mental or physical disorder may still be capable of contracting, conveying, marrying, making medical decisions, executing Wills or Trusts, and performing other actions.

 A judicial determination that a person is totally without understanding, or is of unsound mind, or suffers from one or more mental deficits so substantial that, under the circumstances, the person should be deemed to lack the legal capacity to perform a specific act, should be based on evidence of a deficit in one or more of the person's mental functions rather than on a diagnosis of a person's mental or physical disorder.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer on when someone has the capacity to execute a Will or a Trust and depends upon the underlying facts of what happened.  This means that judges' personal life experiences, values, and cultural understandings come into play when determining when someone has the capacity to execute a Trust.

In addition to contesting the terms of a Trust, a beneficiary can object to how the Trustee is carrying out their duties as Trustee.  The standard is what a “Prudent Trustee” would do.

Trustees typically must provide an annual financial accounting, and a report regarding their duties as a Trustee.

Trusts can typically be administered without the court being involved.  But, if there is a disagreement, any of the interested parties can file a petition with the court.

If you believe that you need to contest a Trust or any actions of a Trustee, please contact us immediately.

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