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By: Scott Grossman on June 12th, 2023

What Does A Trust Litigation Attorney Do?

If you haven't gotten a copy of the trust, there might be other problems in getting your inheritance. After you finish reading this guide below, you will know if you need to begin trust litigation and what you can expect moving forward.

Guide to Trust Litigation

My potential clients often ask me what exactly a trust litigation attorney does. That depends on who I’m representing, the trustee or the beneficiary.

Both require focus and attention to detail. In this article and video, you will learn when trust litigation is necessary and what a trust litigation attorney can do for you, though that varies depending on the case.

Representing the Trustee

A trust litigation attorney represents a trustee to defend their work or recover property that belongs to the trust. Trustees are often sued, sometimes for a good reason and sometimes for a wrong reason. A trustee will hire a trust litigation attorney to defend them from claims they have breached their fiduciary duties to the trust beneficiaries.

On occasion, a trustee has to go on the offensive. Suppose the trustee discovers property was wrongfully taken from a trust or the actions of a prior trustee have caused a loss to the trust. In that case, the current trustee may hire a trust litigation attorney to recover the trust property.

You might notice that everything described so far concerns things that have happened “inside” the trust. That’s important because that is what trust litigation attorneys address. There could be other issues affecting the trust from the “outside.” For example, if the trust owns damaged real estate, the insurance company won’t pay a claim. The trustee will hire an attorney to litigate that issue, but it won’t be a trust litigation attorney.

Representing A Beneficiary

More commonly, beneficiaries hire trust litigation attorneys to address a breach of fiduciary duty by their trustee and recover trust property taken from the trust. Trust litigation attorneys are often asked to:

  • Get the trustee to provide a copy of the trust.
  • Get a trustee suspended or removed.
  • Appoint a successor trustee.
  • Have the trustee’s account.
  • Surcharge the trustee for a loss they caused or incurred.
  • Recover property and get damages for property wrongfully taken from the trust.
  • Represent a client in mediation.
  • Take the client’s case to trial.

What qualifies a breach of fiduciary duties?

A California breach of trust occurs when a trustee breaches a duty that the trustee owes to a Beneficiary. Any of the following can constitute a violation of trust:

  • When the trustee acts in bad faith, engaging in intentional wrongdoing
  • When the trustee acts carelessly
  • When the trustee knowingly breaches a duty, even when done in good faith
  • When the trustee acts outside the scope of power granted in the Trust instrument, even where a reasonable misunderstanding exists

Is your trustee breaching their fiduciary duties?

If you would still like more information on Trust Litigation and your rights as a beneficiary, read our article “20 ways your Trustee can be breaching their fiduciary duties,” or check out our complete Overview of California Trust Litigation on our website. And if you have more questions about your beneficiary rights and what you should know moving forward. 

Need more help?

It’s best to reach out as soon as possible. The longer you take, the more damage your trust could take. 

Still needing some help, have any more questions, or want to talk to someone about your case, please call us at (888) 443-6590. Or fill out our Get Help Now form below, and we would be more than happy to see if we can assist you.