Trusts, Probate & Estate Lawyers Serving Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Montecito, Goleta, Santa Ynez, Carpinteria, Santa Maria, and Oxnard
Talkov Law is dedicated to representing those throughout California with their concerns in trusts, estate, and probate matters. We represent beneficiaries, heirs, administrators, executors, and trustees in disputes involving a will or trust, fiduciary misconduct and fraud, claims of breach of fiduciary duty, investment mismanagement, financial elder abuse, incapacity, power of attorney abuse, and undue influence.
What is an Estate?
An estate includes all assets a decedent owned at the time of their death. If the decedent passed away with their assets in a trust, the issue involves trust litigation. However, if the decedent died without a trust, whether they had a will or not, the matter is considered probate litigation.
Trust Litigation in California
What is a Trust?
A trust is created by a person (trustor) who transfers property to a third party (trustee) for the benefit of chosen persons (beneficiaries). The trustee holds and administers the property for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Trusts remain private and are not subject to court supervision (probate) unless and until trust litigation arises. Trust litigation includes all trust-related actions brought to court, generally by trust attorneys: when an aspect of the trust is being disputed by the parties involved, there is trust litigation.
Why Do I Need a Trust Attorney?
Trust disputes can be emotionally grueling and financially taxing. Tensions between the trustee(s) and beneficiaries can make trust administration quite difficult and can lead to heavy financial and time costs. A trust litigation lawyer can handle trust disputes efficiently, lessening your burdens and providing you ease of mind.
Probate Litigation in California
A court will appoint an executor or an administrator to manage the decedent's assets, pay creditors, and distribute assets to beneficiaries. When an estate dispute arises, litigation involving a probate attorney may be necessary to interpret the California Probate Code. Probate litigation is a court process where people seek to address disputes concerning a will or trust.
Why Do I Need a Probate Litigation Attorney?
Wills pass through probate meaning they are subject to court supervision. Probate is a process through which assets are identified and distributed to intended beneficiaries or heirs of an estate. A will must be probated before property in an estate can be distributed to intended beneficiaries. The probate process is complex and can often be contentious. An estate litigation attorney can help make the process run quicker and smoother. For example, an estate litigation attorney can help you contest a will.
What is the Difference Between an Estate Planning Attorney and an Estate Litigation Attorney?
An estate planning attorney is an expert in creating estate plans, trusts, wills etc. whereas an estate litigation attorney is a trial lawyer who focuses on court processes involved in contesting a will, disputing a trust, etc.
When to Contact a Trust, Estate, & Probate Attorney in California
When issues arise with a trust, estate, or will, parties to the estate including trustees, beneficiaries, and claimants may bring the matter to probate court. This is considered trust, estate and probate litigation. Some examples of disputes calling for the expertise of a trust attorney or probate lawyer include:
- Trust Litigation, Contests, & Disputes - a process through which beneficiaries/heirs try to change the inheritance, gift, bequest or distribution of a trust after the passing of a loved one (i.e. contesting a trust, disputing a trust, voiding a trust, invalidating, a trust).
- Trustee Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Trustee Conflicts, and Embezzlement - When a trustee breaches their fiduciary duty, they may be personally liable to the beneficiaries for their breach.
- Inheritance Disputes and Disinherited Children - California allows for the disinheritance of a child. Even if fully or partially disinherited, a child may still have rights to an inheritance if they can prove they were disinherited due to unjust reasons i.e., undue influence, incapacity.
- Trust Misappropriation, Mismanagement, and Embezzlement - In family trusts, embezzlement refers to the misappropriation of funds belonging to the trust, or to the decedent that should belong to the trust but were stolen before their passing. Trust litigation addresses the monetary relief aspect of an embezzlement case.
- Undue Influence - Under California Welfare and Institutions Code § 15610.70, undue influence is defined broadly as “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity…”
- Power of Attorney Abuse - This raises questions of the power given to someone to make legal decisions on the behalf of someone else. Typically, power of attorney is given to a family member.
- Will Contests and Trust Contests - This involves questioning the validity of wills and trusts based on fraud, duress, undue influence, coercion, lack of capacity, proper will execution, and testamentary intent
- Trust and Probate Administration - Following the appropriate steps is crucial to administering an estate without creating unnecessary disputes.
- Probate Litigation- Contesting a Will, Undue Influence, Mental Incapacity, Breach of Fiduciary Duties, and Filing Creditor Claims.
Contact a Trust, Estate & Probate Attorney Today!
Regardless of whether you are a trustee, beneficiary or heir in a dispute, our team at Talkov Law can help enforce your rights and resolve any trust disputes that arise in Santa Barbara. We understand that not every dispute needs to be litigated. We carefully help our clients consider the relative and ever-changing strengths and weaknesses of their cases. By utilizing appropriate legal strategies to put ourselves in the best position possible, we help our clients secure the best results, whether that is through negotiated settlement, mediation, or trial.
Call Talkov Law today at (805) 880-8800 or contact us online for a free analysis of your situation.
Talkov Law Serves Clients Throughout the Santa Barbara Area:
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Talkov Law's attorneys serve all of Santa Barbara, including the cities of Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta, Isla Vista, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Buellton, Solvang, Lompoc, Carpinteria, as well as Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo, and surrounding areas.