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Trust Disputes Archives

Trust Disputes -- Testamentary Capacity to Make a Trust

Buffington Law Firm's Trust dispute and breach of contract attorneys often deal with issues of mental capacity when representing parties in cases involving disputes involving the validity of trusts.  As discussed in last week's Blog article, the mental capacity to make a will is generally held to be a lower standard than is the standard for mental capacity to make a contract.  So the question arises, which standard applies to the capacity to make a Trust.  After all, in California and many other states trusts are becoming much more common as the means for persons to carry out their testimonial intents.  Probate Code Section 6100.5 sets forth the standard for determining capacity to make a will.  On its face this statute only applies to wills and not trusts.

Testamentary Capacity versus Capacity to Contract -- The Difference

Buffington Law Firm's Trust and Elder Law attorneys are sometimes faced with situations that deal with the issue as to whether a person has the mental capacity to make a contract or, alternatively, testamentary capacity -- the ability to make a will or trust.  To the layperson this may seem straightforward -- it may seem as though a person either has mental capacity or he or she does not.  However, under the law, generally, the required mental capacity to make testamentary decisions is lower than the mental capacity required to make contracts.

Protection of Elders from Involuntary Mental Status Examinations

Buffington Law Firm's team of Elder, Trust, and Undue Influence attorneys often deal with controversies involving the mental competence of Elders. (As used herein, the term "Elder" shall have the meaning set forth in the Welfare & Institutions Code: A California resident 65 or older.) It is very common in Trust and other forms of Elder litigation that one party or other will allege that another party, often an elderly person, lacks mental competence, i.e. the mental competence to execute testamentary documents or the competence to contract. While this may sometimes be a legitimate issue in litigation, sometimes this is a litigation tactic which, if successful, can be extremely intrusive and distressful to the subject Elder.

Financial Elder Abuse Claims -- A Pitfall for the Innocent Unwary

Financial Elder Abuse claims have become increasingly common in California.  Buffington Law Firm's litigation team has handled numerous cases involving allegations of Financial Elder Abuse.  These claims are a growing area of law in California.

Importance of a Lawyer In Trust Disputes

After a loved one passed in your family, the last thing you expected was to end up in a dispute with your family members. However, it happens and it happens all too often. While you may have thought optimistically at first, that the issue would be resolved within the family, it has grown to the point where one or more family members has threatened legal action. You are afraid that if you get your own attorney, it could escalate things. However, if there is a trust dispute you are already in an escalated situation.

Trust Disputes -- Caregivers Often Cannot Take Under Trust Instrument

Buffington Law Firm's Trust litigation attorneys have had broad experience in the litigation of trust dispute issues.  In last week's Blog article we discussed various theories for invalidating Trusts, or provisions within a Trust.  One of the categories dealt with certain types of beneficiaries who are presumptively disqualified from taking under a Trust.  In this article we will briefly discuss a specific type of (sometimes) presumptively disqualified beneficiary -- a care custodian.

Trust Disputes -- Basic Causes of Action

Buffington Law Firm's trust dispute attorneys have successfully prosecuted and defended many disputes involving the validity (or invalidity) of a revocable ("living") trust.  This is commonly known as a "trust contest."  The basic notion of a trust contest is that for one reason or another, a beneficiary or other person with standing seeks to invalidate either an entire trust instrument, or possibly only one provision or amendment of the trust.  There are many reasons why this sometimes is done, and certainly this brief Blog article cannot cover all of the various grounds for trust disputes.  However, we will discuss some of the more common scenarios, which unfortunately recur with amazing frequency.

Trust Disputes -- The Importance of Timely Action

One of Buffington Law Firm's largest practice areas is the litigation of inheritance disputes -- which in practice almost always means litigation of a dispute concerning the terms of a revocable ("living") trust.  A "trust contest" is a dispute as to the validity of a trust instrument or amendment thereto.  Usually these disputes arise after the trustor or trustors (the makers of the trust) have passed.  There can be many grounds for this.  It is amazingly common, for example, for one future beneficiary of a trust to exert undue influence over an extremely infirm, possibly incompetent elderly parent and cause that parent to sign an amendment disinheriting all of the other beneficiaries and benefiting only the one.  The elder often has no idea that this is what he or she is signing.  There appears to be no shortage of attorneys who will draft such amendments.  There are many other causes of trust contests and many variations on this theme.

Financial Elder Abuse: Legal Hazards in Caring for Elderly Relatives

Buffington Law Firm's litigation attorneys have considerable experience in dealing with cases involving allegations of financial elder abuse.  These are situations in which an elderly person, or someone with standing to represent the elderly person's interest or estate, alleges a wrongful taking of an elder's property. If a petitioner establishes a wrongful taking by the preponderance of the evidence, the claimant is entitled to enhanced remedies by recovering, in addition to actual damages, costs and reasonable attorney's fees.  [See generally Cal. Welfare & Institutions Code Sections 15657.5; 15610.30 et seq.]  For purposes of the statute, an "elder" is a California resident age 65 or older.  [Welf. & Inst. Code Sec. 15610.27].  

Trust Litigation -- The Importance of Timely Distributions

This Blog article continues the discussion of "Causes of Trust Disputes and Litigation" from last week's article.  As discussed, the usual purpose of a trust is to act as a flexible and efficient means of transferring assets from the decedent(s) to the beneficiaries, and to avoid probate.  By avoiding probate the estate can avoid the delay and expense of having the probate court supervise the distribution of the estate.  While avoiding the involvement of the probate court is usually a good thing, sometimes there are problems leading to trust disputes.

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Buffington Law Firm, PC
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Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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