Trust Disputes: Invalid Trusts and Breaches of Fiduciary Duty
Fighting Against Trustee Misconduct
Many Californians create trusts to hold assets to allow continuity of financial management if they become incapacitated. Trusts are a good way to protect assets, but when a settlor suffers from cognitive impairment, a greedy caregiver, spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend may use that diminished capacity to arrange trust amendments that re-direct assets to them and away from the settlor’s children. Or those same greedy individuals may become the trustees and mismanage assets or channel money to themselves in violation of their fiduciary duty. In all these kinds of trust cases, the litigators at Evans Law Firm, Inc. can represent heirs and beneficiaries against those who take advantage of trust arrangements. If you or a loved one has been a victim of this kind of manipulation or mismanagement of a trust, call our attorneys today at (415) 441-8669 and we can help.
Once a settlor dies his or her trust becomes irrevocable. There is a very limited time period following the settlor’s death to challenge the trust. Cal. Probate Code § 16061.7 (within 120 days of the trustee’s notice to the heirs that a trust has become irrevocable). Because your time to challenge any trust arrangement that a caregiver or other financial predator has orchestrated is so short, you should contact a financial elder abuse/trust lawyer, like the attorneys at Evans Law Firm, immediately upon receipt of any notice or preferably before if you suspect a problem. Our litigators can prepare a trust contest which is filed in the Probate Court of the county with jurisdiction over the trust. Remember, however, the time period for bringing a trust contest is very short so contact an attorney as soon as you suspect a problem or receive any notices.
Even if the trust agreement itself is valid, the trustee may act against the beneficiaries’ interests in the way he or she administers the trust. They may favor their own interests over yours, be negligent in the management of assets, or fail to timely distribute the legacies the beneficiaries are entitled to. Trust beneficiaries have the right to information regarding the trust, periodic accountings, and Court assistance in making sure trustees administer and distribute property as required by the Trust. Cal. Probate Code §§ 17200 et seq. In some cases, the trustee can be removed for breaching their duties. Cal. Probate Code §§ 15642 et seq. There are short time limits during which you can challenge matters of trust administration too, so if you believe a trustee is not fulfilling his or her duty as a trustee, call us immediately.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of financial elder abuse or a breach of fiduciary duty by a caregiver, spouse or other party by an invalid trust arrangement in San Francisco, Alameda County or elsewhere in California or, contact Ingrid M. Evans and the other Evans Law Firm trusts and financial elder abuse attorneys at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. All litigators will pursue all remedies available to you. Remedies include compelling the trustee to account for trust assets and to restore to the trust any assets wrongfully taken out of it. Cal. Probate Code §§ 850 et seq. and 17200 et seq. Economic damages and punitive damages are also available to the injured party. Cal. Probate Code § 16440. Trustee misconduct may also constitute financial elder abuse against senior settlors and the Probate Code allows the injured senior to pursue remedies for elder abuse as well. Calif. Probate Code § 16442. In such cases, plaintiffs can pursue the remedies available under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, Welf. & Inst. Code § 15600 et seq., including mandatory attorneys’ fees and costs and extra damages to the injured senior or heirs in certain circumstances. Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 15657.5.