If you are an interested party (heir of the settlor or a beneficiary) under a trust, you may be able to contest the validity of the document in court. This is most commonly done by people who were disinherited and who feel the document might not be valid. However, the law favors the quick administration of trust estates, so there are limits on how much time you have.
If notice of trust administration WAS properly served
If the trustee served a notice of trust administration, then the time limit is the following:
- 120 days from the date of service of notice; or
- 60 days from the day on which a copy of the terms of the trust is delivered during that 120 day period (whichever is later)
If notice of trust administration WAS NOT properly served
If the trustee did not serve notice, then the time limit is determined by the underlying basis for the contest:
- Fraud, mistake, or undue influence: 3 years
- Incapacity: 4 years
- Recovery of real property: 5 years
What do I have to do to contest the trust?
To contest the trust within the limitations period, you have to file an action with the court. This is usually a petition under Probate Code Section 17200 seeking to invalidate a document or a provision therein.
What about the no contest clause?
If you file a petition to contest the trust, you might violate the no contest clause, which means you could lose any gift given to you under the trust terms. But not all actions filed with the court are considered contests. If you are unsure, speak with a probate litigation attorney who can advise you on the consequences of filing your claim.
Helix Law Firm can help with trust litigation
If you would like to contest the terms of a will or trust, we can help. The first step is to sit down with you, review the document, and learn about the circumstances surrounding its execution. We will advise you on the strength of your case and the recommended next steps.
If you're interested in learning more, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.