Buffington Law Firm's Trust dispute attorneys have broad experience in dealing with cases in which a trust successor-trustee is failing to properly carry out his or her duties as trustee. As many people know, trusts are a legal device that can allow a decedent's estate to avoid probate. Essentially, a trust allows a successor-trustee to distribute the trust assets and otherwise administer the trust without the involvement of the probate courts. Probate can be an expensive and time-consuming legal process and trusts lighten the courts' workload and can lower administrative expenses by avoiding probate.
Buffington Law Firm's trust litigation team has broad experience in litigating trust disputes. In last week's Blog article we noted that a recent Court of Appeal case, Barefoot v. Jennings, will provide controlling authority requiring significant changes to how certain types of trust disputes must be litigated. Specifically, the holding in that case will deprive certain disinherited persons, or persons deprived of their future positions as trustee, of standing to challenge a trust amendment that affects them under Cal. Probate Code Section 17200. In the past this statute has been the authority for perhaps most trust contest disputes in California. This will now change for some of the most common types of trust disputes, specifically in situations where a trust amendment allegedly procured by undue influence or other improper means purports to disinherit a litigant. Standing is a Consitutional requirement for bringing a lawsuit. For many trust contests, the powerful Cal. Probate Code Section 17200 will no longer provide a basis for bringing suit for lack of standing by the disinherited person.
Buffington Law Firm's Trust Litigation team has noted some important trends concerning trust litigation during 2018. In California trust litigation has become vastly more common in recent years because most families utilize trusts rather than wills to transfer their legacies. In former decades the most common way for family legacies to transfer to the next generation was by will, and courts were well-adapted to handle this burden through the probate system. However, in California wills have largely died out in favor of revocable or "living" trusts as the preferred vehicle for transferring a legacy. The courts have struggled to keep up with this relatively new trend. In some counties it has become notoriously difficult to move a trust dispute case to trial simply because of the backlog of cases in the probate division. In some counties only a relatively few judges accept trust litigation cases. This has sometimes led to delays and frustration for litigants and attornies alike.
Buffington Law Firm's practice areas encompass business litigation, real estate litigation, and trust/estate/elder law litigation. We also handle assault-and-battery lawsuits. Our Firm is experienced in handling jury trials, arbitrations and alternative dispute resolution forums such as mediations. If you believe that you have a meritorious lawsuit within our Firm's practice areas, or if you are being sued, Buffington Law Firm will always offer a free, in-office consultation to discuss your case. The process for this is very straightforward. When you first telephone us, you will speak directly with a qualified attorney who will review the basic nature of your legal problem. So long as it appears that your case is one that falls within our Firm's areas of expertise we will then invite you to make an appointment to come to our office, with relevant documents where applicable, for a free consultation with one of our senior attorneys. In this meeting we will discuss and examine your case in more depth.
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.
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.
In business, real estate, or trust litigation, there is no question but that "job one" for an attorney representing a client is to prepare for trial. As we have discussed in other Blog posts, most cases in fact settle out of court before trial, rather than concluding with trial and a verdict. It is our belief that the very best way to induce the opposing side to settle a case is for the opposition to see that the Firm is diligently and zealously preparing for trial. Naturally, this policy and practice pays big dividends if the case does in fact go all the way to trial. This preparation is equally key for success in mediation or negotiation.
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.
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.
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.