Trust & Estate Litigation
Matthew has extensive experience with Probate and Trust litigation. Litigation can be an emotional process, especially when family members are fighting over their legacy. His first focus is always on mediating these disputes, whenever possible, and assuring that clients sees the best possible outcome.
Matthew has successfully litigated trust matters for clients in Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and the surrounding Bay Area. His first priority is advocating for the interests of his clients, and resolving their concerns in a way that leads to the best possible outcome. Whenever possible, mediating disputes is his first focus. This often works in the best interest of the client, whether they are a trustee, beneficiary, or other person who may have rights to trust assets. As an experienced trust and estate litigation attorney, Matthew will guide you through each of your legal options, provide sound legal advice and counsel, and always put your interests and wishes first.
Do you need a Trust Litigation Attorney?
A trust litigation attorney is necessary when interpretation issues exist, if a trust was not properly set up, if the trustee is not fulfilling their duties, if the validity of a trust or amendment is in question, undue influence or elder abuse occurred, and/or any of the following:
Disputed Claims for or against the trust
Validity of trust is in question
Interpretation of trust
Validity of Amendments to trust in question
It is necessary to Remove a Trustee
Undue Influence was applied
The Grantor of the Trust lacked Capacity
Disputes between beneficiaries
Trustee misappropriates funds (theft, risky investment, etc)
Trust Litigation & Fiduciary Responsibility
Under California Law, the Trustee has many duties and obligations to the Trust they preside over. Being a trustee is a significant responsibility, and when a trustee fails to live up to their duties, litigation can ensue. California Law dictates that "the trustee has a duty to administer the trust solely in the interest of the beneficiaries."
If and when a beneficiary believes the trustee is not acting in their best interest, they can take legal action to remove the trustee, or resolve the issue through other legal means. It is my responsibility as your trust litigation attorney to defend your interests and find a resolution that gives you peace of mind. I work to do this in the most efficient way possible, to minimize litigation and costs. I have found that even in the most heated trust litigation matters, a settlement can often be reached prior to a case going to court.
Read more about the duties of a trustee.
Trust Litigation can occur because of actual, real fraud or misconduct on the part of the trustee, or it can occur because of misunderstandings and lack of communication between the trustee and beneficiaries and other persons who have interest in the trust. A lawyer who specializes in Trust Litigation can help you determine your options to best resolve your matter.
Examples of trustee misconduct include:
not communicating effectively with beneficiaries
failing to carry out routine activities or duties
mismanaging real estate and other property
failing to pay bills associated with trust
not providing routine accounting
inappropriately selling or liquidating trust assets
transferring assets to non-beneficiaries
stealing from the trust
Trust Litigation Due to Financial Elder Abuse
Two Ways to Invalidate a Trust or Trust Amendment: Lack of Capacity and Undue Influence
Matthew explains how showing lack of capacity or undue influence can invalidate a trust that has become irrevocable.
Estate & Probate Litigation
Settling the estate of a person who passes with only a will - or no will at all - can be a lengthy and complicated process in which disputes arise. Probate is the court proceeding that determines the validity or invalidity of a will. Additionally, probate is the process that administers the estate of a decedent, or person who has passed. In the state of California, probate occurs when the decedent leaves behind $150,000 or more in probatable assets. In legal terms, these assets are collectively termed the "estate."
When Probate Litigation May be Necessary
A Probate litigation lawyer is needed if there is gray area or disagreement about:
the validity of the will
the intent or "true wishes" of the decedent
the interpretation of the language in the will
the rights of beneficiaries to particular assets
the existence of a will
the executor's ability to carry out their executor duties
the role of the executor
the mental capacity of the decedent
These are only a few examples of why one might need a probate litigation attorney. Matthew is an experienced probate litigator whose first duty is to resolve clients' concerns in the most efficient, cost effective manner way possible. His goal is to ensure his clients fully understand their legal rights and options, and to work hand in hand with them toward reaching the best possible outcome.
Learn more about the probate process in California.