Rocklin Trust Litigation Lawyer

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Rocklin Trust Litigation Attorney

No one ever feels truly ready to contemplate their own mortality. However, proper estate planning is crucial to help you ensure you can continue to support your family, even after your death. Estate planning allows you to carefully create a detailed plan for properly preserving, managing, and distributing your property and assets if you pass away or otherwise become incapacitated. Without taking a proactive approach to estate planning, you risk leaving your family with a probate court nightmare that can cause significant financial strain or lead to serious rifts in the family dynamic. When your loved ones are already confronting a difficult grieving process, the last thing you want to do is to overwhelm them with a complicated legal situation that may take years to resolve.

One of the most effective ways to retain control of your assets and structure their distribution is to create a trust. Increasing your knowledge about trusts and the legal considerations they involve gives you the opportunity to preserve your assets and guarantee your family members can access them according to your wishes. Learn more about this valuable strategy by consulting the information below, then contact the law firm McCunn Law to discuss how a Rocklin trust litigation attorney can help develop your customized estate plan to carry out your goals.

A Rocklin Trust Litigation Attorney You Can Trust Call (916) 773-6100

Wills Versus Trusts

While the terms “will” and “trust” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same kind of legal document and do not offer the same protections. They both allow you to determine how your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries after your death, but they are different documents that serve distinct purposes. A will is a legal document that explains your intentions for how your assets and property should be distributed after your death. It creates an inventory of your possessions, names the individuals you wish to inherit them, identifies an executor responsible for distributing your assets, and supplies instructions for doing so.

Anyone crafting a will must follow specific state guidelines for writing, signing, and witnessing the document. Wills take effect following your death and a court must verify any will as legally valid by the court before allocating your assets. Following your death, a will goes to probate court, which is the court-supervised process of authenticating the will, locating and appraising your assets, settling outstanding creditor claims or paying taxes, and transferring the remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Wills remain an important estate planning document, especially for those with minor children. A will can ensure you appoint guardianship of your minor children to the appropriate individuals after your death. In addition, you can utilize a will to alert beneficiaries of previously unknown assets and ensure the distribution of your possessions to friends, family, or other individuals. Your will can also disinherit individuals who normally would have inherited your properties or other assets. Should you pass away without a will in place, a situation known as intestacy, each of the above topics is subject to the decisions of the court—including the guardianship of your minor children. Thus, it is still essential for individuals considering creating a trust to ensure a will is in place.

Benefits of a Trust

The probate process is complicated, expensive, time-consuming, and results in loss of control as a judge retains responsibility for managing and allocating your assets. It also causes a loss of privacy because all probate documents are subject to public disclosure, including the names of beneficiaries and any conditions you may place on the transfer of the assets. For these reasons, many people choose to create a trust, which does not require undergoing probate to administer your assets. Trusts can save your family members time, hassle, and avoidable expenses.

A trust is a legal arrangement in which you appoint an individual or a qualified trust company to hold your assets and property either on your own behalf or on behalf of your named beneficiaries. You must be legally mentally fit to create a trust and initiate a fiduciary relationship with the administrator of the estate. As the creator of the trust, you are the “trustor” and can divert assets into your trust immediately after creation, effectively transferring ownership of these assets from yourself to the trust.

An essential element of creating a trust is appointing a third party as a “trustee,” the person that controls the assets within the trust and manages the property listed within the trust. Alternatively, you can choose to name yourself as trustee. If you decide to make yourself the trustee, you must also name a “successor trustee,” who will take control of the trust after your death and distribute assets to beneficiaries according to the terms outlined in the trust. You may also name a successor trustee if the original trustee you designate is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties.

Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable trusts, also referred to as living trusts, are the most common form of trust included in an estate plan. They give you the authority to amend, change, revoke, or completely terminate the trust within your lifetime without court involvement. This is extremely useful considering financial circumstances and relationships often change over time, and your trust must reflect your updated situation. A revocable trust can also allow you to stipulate specific instructions should you become disabled, comatose, or otherwise incapacitated and unable to make sound decisions regarding your finances.

Because the assets within a revocable trust are still considered your personal assets for the purposes of creditors and estate taxes, this type of trust does not offer protection from court-ordered legal judgments. In most cases, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust after your death. All assets within the trust at the time of your death will be subject to state and federal taxes. You can design the trust to divide into separate irrevocable trusts for the benefit of your surviving spouse, children, or other beneficiaries. In contrast with a will that makes your wishes available for review by the public, a living trust is not made part of the public record, protecting your privacy and making it more difficult for creditors to collect debts from the estate.

Irrevocable Trusts

Irrevocable trusts cannot be amended, changed, or revoked after they are created, except in extremely extenuating circumstances. After you transfer your assets into an irrevocable trust, you are legally surrendering ownership and control of these assets to an appointed trustee and can no longer take possession of them during your lifetime. Because you no longer have direct access to these assets after transferral into the trust, they are not considered part of your estate and are therefore protected from claims made by creditors or debt collection efforts carried out against your estate.

Unlike a revocable trust where you retain ownership of the assets, an irrevocable trust exists as a separable entity, meaning you are not legally required to pay state or federal taxes on these assets. Any claims against your estate cannot include assets in this trust or those of any named beneficiaries. Irrevocable trusts are suitable to manage larger estates with greater asset holdings to reduce or completely avoid paying estate taxes. These benefits offer security for surviving spouses, family members, and beneficiaries of the estate.

Trust Administration

Whether you decide to establish a revocable or irrevocable trust, the process of trust administration will begin immediately following your death. Trust administration refers to the act of fulfilling the legal responsibilities placed upon the trustee by the trustor for maintaining, preserving, and distributing the estate. Depending on the instructions within the trust document, the trustee may be ordered to follow the trustor’s wishes exactly as written or may possess some decision-making capabilities for investing or distributing assets.

Typical duties of a trustee include:

  • Adhering to fiduciary duty (administering the trust in the interest of beneficiaries).
  • Acting responsibly, honestly, and faithfully during the entire process.
  • Representing the estate in any legal matters.
  • Following the instructions for asset management outlined by the trustor.
  • Maintaining detailed records of any actions performed during trust administration, including income, expenditures, and distributions.
  • Hiring specialists, such as accountants, financial advisors, or a Rocklin trust litigation lawyer to assist in fulfilling duties.
  • Collecting and organizing the assets and having them appraised if necessary.
  • Managing or making prudent investments.
  • Maintaining insurance for the estate property.
  • Notifying creditors and beneficiaries of their interest in the estate.
  • Keeping an open line of communication with beneficiaries and answering their questions.
  • Paying any valid debts against the estate.
  • Filing tax returns and paying taxes.
  • Supervising any other remaining financial obligations.
  • Distributing assets to the named beneficiaries.

Trust Litigation

Although most trustees take care to administer trusts according to the guidelines listed above, the fact that trusts do not require direct court supervision may provide an opportunity for the trustee to breach their fiduciary duty, neglect their responsibilities, or otherwise act inappropriately. In these cases, or if a trust dispute arises, beneficiaries may attempt to resolve the issue outside of the court through a settlement agreed upon by all parties. This is the preferred process, as it significantly reduces expenses and allows for a more efficient resolution. However, if beneficiaries cannot negotiate a suitable settlement, the next step is to hire a Rocklin trust litigation attorney to present the case before a probate court.

If a beneficiary feels the trustee has been dishonest or negligent in trust administration and cannot reach a settlement to resolve this issue, they can file a petition to introduce the matter to probate court. After receiving notice of this petition, the trustee must submit a response before the discovery phase, the process of gathering evidence, begins. After discovery is complete, the court will schedule a trial in probate court, which can take from several days to months depending on the specific circumstances of the dispute. During this trial, the beneficiary will request the trustee’s removal from their role and a temporary trustee is assigned fiduciary duty over the trust until the court makes a verdict on the matter.

If the court finds the trustee in breach of their fiduciary duty, it will appoint an alternative trustee to take over administration of the trust. Typically, the trustee will request that assets from the trust cover any litigation costs. However, the court can order the original trustee to cover the costs associated with trust litigation if the trustee is in breach of their duty.

In addition to beneficiaries pursuing trust litigation against a trustee, other types of trust disputes may arise that require litigation with help from a Rocklin trust litigation lawyer. Most commonly, this takes the form of family, friends, or other individuals acting coercively to influence the trustee’s decisions in their favor rather than following the wishes of the trustor.

Safeguard Your Estate Today with McCunn Law

Do not wait to protect the future of your estate. Regardless of your age or health status, sudden and unexpected challenges can drastically impact not only your life, but your loved ones as well. Making the commitment to creating the right estate plan is the only way to secure the future of your family members and save them from the stressful, time-consuming, and expensive probate process. If you want to ensure your assets are preserved and distributed according to your wishes, contact trust litigation lawyers McCunn Law today for a consultation.

Since 2007, award-winning attorney and Principal Partner Drummond T. McCunn has received recognition as one of the area’s most highly skilled Rocklin trust litigation attorneys. Our team offers comprehensive aid with trusts, wills, advanced health directives, durable powers of attorney, and any other estate planning tools you may need to safeguard your assets in the event of death or incapacitation. We are particularly proud of our impressive record of delivering proven results to clients, with over 1,600 successfully closed cases for families throughout California.

For expert advice and dedicated, compassionate legal representation, contact McCunn Law today by submitting the form on our website. Our firm values the legacy you wish to leave behind and will work to create an estate plan that respects your wishes and supports your loved ones well into the future.

Why Choose a McCunn Law Trust Attorney

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.