Bay Area Estate And Tax Planning Law Firm

Tips for contesting a trust in California

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Trusts are a popular estate planning tool for California residents. They’re known for protecting beneficiaries from estate taxes as well as giving Californians more control over how their wealth is passed down.

From the other side of things though, it’s not unheard of for beneficiaries to disagree with the terms of the trust or how it’s being managed. When this happens, they might have the option to contest the trust.

How to contest the trust

Beneficiaries or other family members who are unhappy with a trust may try to contest it by filing a case in probate court. It would also be up to the person contesting the trust to provide a reason. Some common reasons that trusts are contested include:

  • Individuals being left out of the trust
  • Being unhappy with the terms of the trust
  • Disagreements with the trustee

Family members might also contest the trust if they suspect that the person who created the trust – known as the grantor – was coerced into its creation or was otherwise in a compromised mental state. They might also suspect fraud or forgery that changed the terms of the trust without the grantor’s permission.

When should you contest a trust?

Beneficiaries generally have a short window of time to contest the trust after the grantor passes. In California, the beneficiaries only have 120 days to contest the trust, but other states may have a longer window.

The time that it takes for the challenge to go through probate court depends on the reasons for contesting the trust as well as the evidence that’s provided. A complicated case that affects more people will take longer.

There’s also a hefty cost to contesting a trust that also depends on the complexities. If you have serious concerns about how the trust is being managed or worries about an individual family member not being accounted for, contesting it might be worth the peace of mind.