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Defending your role as trustee when it is challenged in court

Very few people actually seek to become an executor of an estate or the trustee of a trust that becomes active after someone dies or becomes incapacitated. It is a dubious honor, typically unpaid, that can create a lot of personal stress as well as interpersonal conflicts.

People that you have known your whole life may start examining every single thing you do to find fault. It can be incredibly frustrating, time-consuming and thankless. However, someone that trusted you believed that you were capable and competent to perform these duties, and you probably don't want to disappoint.

If you are the sole trustee of a large trust, and other heirs are unhappy with the set-up and execution of an estate or trust, you may face the brunt of their frustrations. It isn't that uncommon for trustees who are faithfully performing their duties as outlined in the estate plan, last will and trust requirements to face legal challenges from other heirs or family members.

If you are facing a challenge to your position of trustee despite your attempts to adhere to requirements, you need to speak with an attorney who has experienced with estate administration and trusts in California.

Trustees must follow the requirements of the trust

In California, trusts have specific requirements. Trustees are then bound by their agreement to fill that role to adhere to the requirements and requests within a trust. Sometimes, that could mean preparing to sell a family home even though other heirs would rather retain the property.

Sometimes it means providing for the care of special needs children or even pets. Other times, it requires ensuring that heirs meet obligations set forth in the trust to enjoy any of its assets. Whatever the specifics of the trust, it is your legal duty to follow them and ensure that you abide by the the wishes of the trust's creator.

Sometimes, even when you do all of that, or perhaps specifically because you do, other people become upset. They may imagine that another trustee could bend the rules, or they hope to be appointed in your stead.

Whatever the motivation behind someone challenging your position, the best way to counter it is to carefully document how you have been fulfilling your obligations as trustee and to work with an attorney. Not just any attorney can help you in the event that your position as trustee is challenged. You need the help of an attorney who understands estate, probate and trust law.

The right attorney can make a big difference

Whether you're handling a living trust for an incapacitated family member, a special needs trust for the child of someone who has died or a revocable or irrevocable trust as part of an estate, working with an attorney offers legal protection. Your attorney can help ensure you are complying with both the law and the requirements of the trust. Your lawyer can also help you if other heirs or family members decide to challenge your position as trustee in court.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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