El Dorado Hills Trust Litigation Lawyer

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El Dorado Hills Trust Litigation Attorneys

Preparing for your family’s future after your death is never a pleasant prospect. However, developing a comprehensive estate plan is necessary to ensure asset preservation, management, and distribution according to your wishes. After spending your lifetime maintaining responsibility for your loved ones, you want to do everything in your power to guarantee they can experience the same standard of living in the future, even after you are gone. Estate planning gives you the opportunity to determine the management of your assets and property following your death. It also provides assistance should you become disabled or incapacitated and unable to make sound decisions regarding the future of your estate.

Choosing to ignore the estate planning process now means you risk leaving behind a time-consuming and expensive legal ordeal for your family to navigate after you pass away. When your loved ones are already grieving your loss, forcing them to undergo the complex probate process will only further burden and overwhelm them. One of the most effective ways to avoid this situation is to create a trust to retain control of your assets and carefully structure their distribution after your death.

Learn more about creating trusts by consulting the information below, then contact McCunn Law to speak with our experienced team of El Dorado Hills trust litigation attorneys. We offer superior representation and excellent legal advice so you can create a customized estate plan to protect the future of your assets and secure the financial stability of your loved ones. You will receive expert guidance during every stage of the estate planning process so you can move forward with confidence and peace of mind.

An El Dorado Hills Trust Litigation Attorney You Can Trust Call (916) 773-6100

How Is a Trust Different from a Will?

Although many people use the terms “will” and “trust” synonymously, these are entirely separate legal documents providing distinct levels of protection for your estate. Both supply a means for you to determine the allocation and management of your assets following your death, but they each serve different purposes and require distinct legal processes. A will is a legal document that details your intentions for asset and property distribution after your death. Wills name your beneficiaries, create an inventory of your possessions, assign assets to beneficiaries, name an executor to oversee this distribution, and supply instructions for completing this process.

A will must adhere to state guidelines in terms of its creation, signing, and witnessing to be considered legally valid. It will only take effect after you pass away, but first requires review by the court before the distribution of assets begins. Probate, or the court-supervised process of verifying your will, involves locating and appraising your assets, paying off claims by creditors, paying taxes from the estate, managing other financial obligations, and transferring the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.

The probate process tends to be complex, confusing, and expensive, sometimes taking several years to settle, during which time access to your assets is prohibited. During this process, a judge will make the final decisions for the management and allocation of your assets, meaning you lose a significant amount of control over your legacy. It also results in loss of privacy because probate documents are part of the public record, including the list of beneficiaries and any conditions you have stipulated they meet in order to receive the assets. For these reasons, most people prefer to create a trust, which avoids the probate process altogether, saving your loved ones’ time, stress, and unnecessary expenses.

A trust is a legal arrangement that involves appointing an individual or a trust company to hold the assets and property within your estate on your behalf or on behalf of your beneficiaries. As the trust’s creator, you are the “trustor” and may begin transferring assets into the trust right away, which effectively transfers ownership of the assets from yourself to the trust. The person you appoint to manage the trust is known as a “trustee,” and they are responsible for controlling all the assets and property within the trust. You also have the option of naming yourself as the trustee, but this requires you to designate a “successor trustee” to take over following your death to distribute your estate in accordance with the terms listed in the trust.

What Are Revocable Living Trusts?

Also known as living trusts, revocable trusts give you the legal authority to change, amend, revoke, or terminate the trust at your own discretion while you are still alive without involvement by the court. Revocable trusts are the most common form of trust featured in estate plans, as they allow you to make important updates based on changing financial circumstances and relationships, such as adopting a child or obtaining a divorce. A revocable trust is also incredibly useful if you become disabled, comatose, or otherwise incapacitated and can no longer make the necessary financial decisions concerning your estate.

For debt collection and estate tax purposes, the assets you place within a revocable trust are still legally your personal assets, meaning this type of trust offers no protection from legal judgments rendered by the court regarding creditor claims. Revocable trusts become irrevocable after your death, and all assets contained in the trust at this time become subject to state and federal taxes. You may design the trust so it incorporates separate irrevocable trusts for surviving spouses, children, or other beneficiaries. Unlike a will, a living trust does not become part of public record, allowing you to protect your privacy and make it more challenging for creditors to pursue debt collection against your estate.

What Are Irrevocable Trusts?

Irrevocable trusts cannot be amended, revoked, or terminated after creation, barring extreme extenuating circumstances. Transferring your assets or property into this type of trust amounts to legally surrendering ownership and control of these assets. You appoint a trustee to manage them and no longer have access or the ability to reclaim them during your lifetime. According to the law, any assets within an irrevocable trust are no longer part of your estate, making them immune to creditors or any debt collection efforts pursued against your estate.

In contrast with a revocable trust, in which you retain asset ownership, an irrevocable trust is a completely separable entity from your estate and not eligible for state or federal taxes. Any claims made by creditors against your estate cannot affect the assets within the trust or any beneficiaries you have named to receive them. Irrevocable trusts are most useful when managing large estates with significant asset holdings, as protection from taxes allows your beneficiaries and surviving family members to retain the full value of the assets.

How Does Trust Administration Work in California?

Regardless of whether you choose a revocable or irrevocable trust, the trust administration process will begin as soon as you pass away. Trust administration is the process the trustee undergoes to fulfill legal responsibilities for maintaining, preserving, and distributing the assets within the trust. You can choose to order your trustee to follow your instructions exactly as described in the trust or allow them a degree of freedom when making decisions regarding investments or allocation of your estate.

A trustee is responsible for the following duties:

  • Upholding a fiduciary duty, defined as administering the trust according to the best interest of the beneficiaries named in the trust
  • Acting with honesty, responsibility, and care during this administration
  • Representing the estate in legal matters
  • Adhering to the instructions provided by the trustor for asset management
  • Informing creditors and beneficiaries of their role in the estate
  • Compiling and organizing all assets in the trust and scheduling an appraisal if necessary
  • Managing current investments or making new investments
  • Remaining available to beneficiaries if they have questions or concerns
  • Keeping detailed records of all actions performed during the process of trust administration, including all income, expenditures, and distributions
  • Seeking aid from specialists to assist in fulfilling duties, such as financial advisors, accountants, or an El Dorado Hills trust litigation attorney
  • Maintaining estate insurance
  • Paying off any valid debt claims made against the estate
  • Filing relevant tax returns and paying taxes
  • Managing all other financial obligations
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries

When Should I Pursue Trust Litigation?

While the majority of trustees are carefully selected for their integrity and do faithfully administer trusts in accordance with the above guidelines, the lack of direct court supervision during this process can cause issues. Without court involvement, a trustee with dishonorable intentions has the opportunity to neglect their responsibility, breach their fiduciary duty, or otherwise administer the trust in an inappropriate manner. Beneficiaries may respond by resolving the matter outside of court with aid from an El Dorado trust litigation lawyer, who can help negotiate a settlement suitable for all parties. Compared to taking the matter before a judge, this solution offers reduced expenses and a quicker resolution.

However, if the parties are unable to agree on a fair settlement, the case will move on to trust litigation in probate court. A beneficiary who believes the trustee has demonstrated dishonesty or negligence during trust administration can file a petition with the probate court to request a review of the trustee’s actions during administration. After the trustee receives notice of the petition, they must submit a response before the discovery phase can begin. After the discovery phase has concluded and all relevant evidence gathered, the court will schedule a trial. Reaching a solution can take as little as a few days or as long as several months, depending on the complexity of the case. The court will remove the trustee from their role and assign a temporary trustee until it reaches a verdict.

If the probate court determines that the trustee demonstrated a breach of fiduciary duty or engaged in other improper behavior while administering the trust, it will appoint an alternative trustee to begin management of the trust. In most cases, the estate will cover the litigation costs of handling the dispute, but a trustee found to have violated their duty can be ordered to pay for these expenses. Along with beneficiaries pursuing litigation against trustees, other forms of trust disputes can arise that require aid from an El Dorado trust litigation attorney. Typically, such disputes occur when family members, friends, or other individuals attempt to coerce the trustee into making decisions that benefit their own interests rather than adhering to the intentions of the trustor.

What Can I Do to Protect My Estate?

Although estate planning may seem like a task you can put off until a later date, the truth is that you never know when you may become incapacitated or pass away. Neglecting to handle estate matters can have serious repercussions for the future of your estate and the financial security of your family. Make the decision now to create an estate plan so you can save your loved ones from the stressful, expensive, and time-consuming probate process. Hiring the services of an experienced El Dorado Hills trust litigation attorney is the only way to guarantee the appropriate management of your estate after your death.

Contact McCunn Law Today to Create Your Estate Plan

If you want to protect your estate and ensure the allocation of your assets according to your wishes, contact McCunn Law today to schedule a consultation with our team. Since 2017, renowned attorney and Principal Partner Drummond T. McCunn has worked tirelessly to help California residents create comprehensive, personalized estate plans based on their unique needs. Our team handles trusts, wills, durable powers of attorney, advanced health directives, and other estate planning tools to plan for your family’s future should you become incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly. We offer compassionate legal representation and expert advice, delivering over 1,600 successfully closed cases for our clients across the state of California.

At McCunn Law, we understand the importance of leaving behind a legacy for your loved ones. We will work with you to develop an estate plan that accomplishes your goals and respects your wishes. Contact us today by submitting the form on our website, and our dedicated team will be in touch with you shortly to discuss how we can help you protect your family’s future.

Why Choose McCunn Law

Our methods for handling business owner divorce and family law issues are unique. We offer legal assistance for a range of family law cases, including:

Mr. McCunn specializes in a holistic, project management approach which empowers you to make your own decisions throughout the process. He has a reputation as a peacemaker and his honest and pragmatic attitude towards divorce and other family law issues ensures you only pay for the services you need during your case.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.

“McCunn Law is a high-quality and highly knowledgeable legal team. I went into a consultation regarding child custody and was extremely happy with the plan and ultimately the results of my case. They create a plan with the client’s needs and wants in mind. Drummond is also great working with regarding what kind of budget a client would be able to afford. If I have any more legal needs in the future this is the office I will use every time.”

Megan P.