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By: Scott Grossman on August 27th, 2016

Trustees Can Defend Against Claims Of Mental Incompetence

Pursuing legal action as a result of a trustee or settlor’s claims of mental incompetence is an uphill battle. The courts hesitate to declare someone mentally incompetent unless it can be demonstrated through clear evidence that the individual cannot manage the affairs of the trust. This issue is currently playing itself out on a national stage as a result of the Donald Sterling case. Mr. Sterling owns the Los Angeles Clippers. His wife, Shelly, is attempting to have him removed as a co-trustee of their family trust, to block his attempts to revoke the trust, and to sell the trust’s ownership interest in the Clippers. She claims that her actions are justified because she alleges that her husband is mentally incompetent.

Evidence to Defend Against Claims of Mental Incompetence

In an effort to protect the interests of trustees and settlers, individuals accused of mental incompetence are given an opportunity to defend themselves. Donald Sterling will have the ability to present the evidence that supports his claim that he is fully capable of managing his own affairs as well as the affairs of the trust. Attorney Scott Grossman recently spoke on this topic in an interview with a radio station. He noted that Sterling and others with claims of mental incompetence should have an opportunity to present the following in their defense:

  • Testimony from physicians of his choosing as to his mental competence.
  • Testimony from his employees as to his behavior in the workplace.
  • Testimony from people that he engages in business dealings with, such as buyers or sellers of real estate or corporate assets.
  • Evidence that he is able to manage his own finances effectively.

Whether you are accused of mental incompetence or suspect a trustee or settlor of the same, it is important to seek legal guidance.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.