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By: Scott Grossman on December 3rd, 2019

If I sue my trustee will I get disinherited?

If I sue my trustee will I get disinherited? 

Usually, the way this question comes up is I have a client who approaches me saying, I know my trustee has done the wrong thing and I am getting hurt as a result of it. I have read the trust and I see the trust has a no-contest clause in it. Either my client tells me on their own that I am concerned that if I do anything at all I am going to lose my inheritance or sometimes the trustee will actually say to the beneficiary, “You can’t do anything because there is no no-contest clause, if you sue me for any reason at all, I am going to have you disinherited and you will get nothing from the trust because of that no-contest clause.”

I will tell you the no-contest clause is one of the most common bullying tactics I see trustees use and it is absolutely categorically wrong.

You can ignore it. The only time you need to pay attention to the no-contest clause is if you believe the trust itself or maybe an amendment doesn’t really reflect the wishes of the settlers. And then what you want is a court order to set either the trust itself or the trust Amendment aside. That is not what I started this video talking about. So I want to make sure we are all clear if your concern is something like “I am not getting what I am supposed to get for my inheritance.” You think the document is fine, You are perfectly satisfied with whatever it is that it says, you are just concerned that the trustee isn’t giving you what you are supposed to get then you are not contesting the trust.

If for any reason at all, what you are saying is “I am good with the trust, I am just upset with the way that the trustee has managed the trust” then you are not going to be disinherited.

Ignore the no-contest clause, it doesn’t apply to you. I can tell you categorically the no-contest clause does not apply if your claim is that the trustee has taken something from the trust that they’re not supposed, or distributed to the wrong person, or mismanaged the trust assets, or failed to make a distribution to you, or what they distributed to you was the wrong thing, or too little.   The no-contest clause does not apply to you, and you should consider whether it’s in your best interest to file suit against the trustee.

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.