Trust and Estate Litigation
Mr. Gold represents beneficiaries, personal representatives and creditors in all matters of probate litigation and probate administration in the probate courts of California.
Probate litigation typically involves the challenge to the validity of a will or trust, the meaning and construction of a will or trust, the proper administration of a will or trust, creditor claims, the rights of surviving spouses, and determining what assets are included with the probate estate.
Mr. Gold handles probate litigation and other types of fiduciary litigation for clients in California and nationwide for the following matters:
- Will Contests
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty / Probate Fraud / Beneficiary Rights
- Elective Share
- Abuse of Power of Attorney
- Conservatorship Litigation
- Trust Litigation
- Rights of Surviving Spouses
- Joint Bank Account Litigation / Pay on Death Disputes
- Probate & Trust Appeals
- Reformation of a California Will
How do I know when to contact a California probate lawyer? The time frames for certain actions in a probate estate are quite limited. Failure to timely act can cause a permanent bar to protecting one’s rights in the probate estate. The following include some of the key triggers for taking action and contacting a California probate attorney:
Receipt of Formal Notice. Formal notice in probate can be sent when one party wants to take action that is likely to be contested. Attached to the formal notice will be a petition asking for the relief requested. This could be a Petition for Administration, which states that the last will and testament will be admitted to probate unless an object is made. There are many other petitions in probate that will be received with a formal notice, such as a Petition to Remove a Personal Representative and a Petition to Determine Beneficiaries.
Receipt of Notice of Petition to Administer Estate. A Notice of Petition to Administer Estate states that the recipient has until the date of the hearing to object to the admission of a will to Probate and the appointment of a personal representative. You then only have 120 days to file a Petition to revoke probate within which to challenge the will (that has already been admitted to probate) and to challenge the appointment of the personal representative (who will already be appointed at this time.) Failure to act on time could eliminate the ability to litigate the issue later.
Receipt of Notice to Creditor. The personal representative is required to send an individual Notice to Creditor to any creditor that is reasonably ascertainable. The general rule is that a creditor’s claim is barred if it is not filed by the later of 4 months after the issuance of the “letters” appointing a personal representative or 60 days after the date that specific notice has been given to that creditor. If the estate objects to a creditor claim, the creditor has three months following the rejection to litigate the claim by filing an action in the civil court. Note that the statute of limitations for filing a claim against an estate is a strict one year from the date of the debtor’s death. (California Code of Civil Procedure 366.2) There are some exceptions to these general rules, so if you believe you have a claim against an estate you should contact a California probate attorney.
Probate Estate Open – You Receive No Notice of Anything. If the probate estate of someone has been open for a month and you receive no notice of anything, it could be because you have been cut out of the estate plan. If such event, you may have several months within which to challenge the will or estate plan. We typically recommend filing early in probate litigation so as to avoid the inadvertent loss of important rights in the probate estate.
If you or a loved one have questions about a will or trust, please call the California probate lawyer Andrew Gold at (650) 450-9600 for a no-charge consultation. If you have received a “Notice of Petition to Administer Estate” from a California probate estate and are unsure of your next step, we can help.