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San Francisco Probate Litigation

San Francisco Probate Litigation Attorneys

Serving Northern CA for Over 40 Years

Probate litigation deals with disputes arising during the probate process, which is the legal procedure for administering a deceased person's estate. In California, probate litigation can encompass various issues, including will contests, trust disputes, guardianship issues, and breaches of fiduciary duty.

Call Triay Law Office at (510) 330-2203 for trusted legal guidance regarding probate litigation.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It involves proving in court that a decedent's will is valid, identifying and inventorying the decedent's property, appraising the property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the will – or state law, if there is no will – directs.

Probate Litigation in California

Probate litigation in California usually arises when disagreements or disputes occur during the probate process. These disputes can involve beneficiaries, heirs, creditors, or other interested parties. The most common types of probate litigation include:

  • Will Contests: These occur when someone believes the will does not accurately reflect the deceased's wishes. Grounds for contesting a will include undue influence, fraud, lack of testamentary capacity, or improper execution.
  • Trust Disputes: Disagreements over the management of a trust, the interpretation of trust terms, or the actions of trustees often lead to litigation.
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Executors, administrators, and trustees have a legal responsibility to act in the best interest of the estate or trust. If they fail to do so, they may be sued for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Guardianship Issues: Disagreement about who should care for a minor child or an incapacitated adult can lead to probate litigation.
  • Elder Abuse: Financial elder abuse can also lead to probate litigation. This happens when someone improperly uses an older person's funds, assets, or property.

The process for probate litigation in California generally involves filing a petition with the probate court, serving notice to interested parties, conducting discovery, and then going to trial, if necessary. The litigation can be complex and time-consuming, often taking months or even years to resolve.

Trusted Legal Advocates in Northern California

Probate litigation can have serious financial and emotional consequences for everyone involved. Therefore, it is crucial to have experienced legal counsel when navigating this challenging area of law. Triay Law Office has served clients for nearly five decades. Our team understands probate law and how it may impact you.

When you need experienced legal counsel, entrust your case to our San Francisco probate litigation lawyers at Triay Law Offices.

FAQ Learn More About Probate Litigation

  • Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s last will and testament or according to intestate law. Certain trusts only go into effect upon the death of the testator, and may therefore be part of a probate administration. California probate courts oversee probate administration and probate litigation.

  • Probate litigation is the term for a lawsuit when a party, such as an heir, beneficiary, creditor, third party or omitted spouse contests a will. Probate litigation also includes charges against fiduciaries of trusts or estates, or creditors’ claims against an estate.

  • There are several different reasons for contesting a will. For example, claims of undue influence and lack of capacity are common causes for probate litigation. Some individuals may argue that the will is defective, or that the estate trustee is breaching a fiduciary duty. If you are an omitted spouse or if your spouse leaves you less than required by California law, you may have a claim against the estate as part of your spousal rights.

  • A fiduciary duty is the obligation to act honestly, fairly and in good faith when handling the deceased person’s estate. There are multiple fiduciary duties that executors, administrators and trustees are legally required to follow, including keeping proper accountings of all investments, as well as money going in and out of the trust or estate. Violation of this duty or poor performance in administrating the estate may result in legal action by the estate’s beneficiaries.

  • Just as in all types of civil litigation, the law allows you to represent yourself in a probate proceeding. However, we strongly advise having a seasoned probate litigation lawyer handle your case to ensure that California probate law upholds your best interests.
  • Even in death, a person is liable for their debts. For example, creditors may bring claims against a person’s estate after their death to receive payment.

  • A codicil is a document that makes small changes to the terms of a last will and testament. An individual may use codicils when they want to amend their last wishes without having to create an entirely new will. A codicil will only be legally valid and enforceable if executed in the same manner as a will. Codicils are particularly useful upon remarriage, additional children born, or new property acquired by an estate.

  • If a person dies without a will, then California intestacy laws will dictate the division of their estates to the heirs at law. These laws will then distribute property and assets depending on the marital status, number of children and surviving relatives of the deceased individual.