Your South Bay and Los Angeles Probate Attorneys
The world of probate litigation is growing exponentially as the Greatest Generation transitions its wealth to the Baby Boomer Generation. A particularly large population needing this service live around Los Angeles. Baker, Burton & Lundy would like to help these residents from their friendly, soothing office on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Probate attorneys Brad Baker, Albro Lundy, and Evan Koch combine their trial and estate planning experience to provide top-notch representation for people facing a disagreement or contest about a will or a trust.
What is Probate Litigation?
Probate litigation can be divided into four primary areas:
- Contesting documents based upon incapacity, undue influence, menace, and/or fraud of the individual signing the trust or will.
- Contesting actions of fiduciaries (trustees and executors) for breach of fiduciary duty or forcing fiduciaries to account for their actions.
- Bringing actions to recover property that belongs to a decedent or an incapacitated individual.
- Elder abuse causes of action, which can be brought in either civil or probate court.
Determining Probate Eligibility
The concept of “standing” is an important aspect of probate. Only certain individuals can bring probate actions. The good samaritan who discovers a wrong does not have “standing” to go to probate court to correct the wrong. Only certain close relatives or named beneficiaries as well as individuals and/or entities named as trustees or executors have “standing” to file actions in probate court.
No Contest Clauses in Estate Planning
A no contest clause is an added feature in most estate plans that attempts to deter unhappy beneficiaries from challenging the estate plan. If a no contest clause is triggered by someone fighting to invalidate the estate plan, then they and their children are excluded (as though they had died). The “No Contest” statutes have changed as of January 1, 2010. The new statutes are aimed to decrease the amount of litigation surrounding will and/or trust contests. Time will tell if the new statutes will achieve their goals. Navigating the litigation paths can be tricky and care needs to be taken to understand the potential repercussions or downside of filing an action in probate court. Unknowingly triggering a no contest clause could have disastrous consequences for the unwary.
No Jury Trials in Probate Court
Aside from conservatorship proceedings and some elder abuse cases, there is no right to a jury trial in probate court. Judges are the final arbiters of all your disputes. Judges are given the latitude to exercise their discretion; however, judges are not allowed to fashion remedies that are not properly within the framework of the court pleadings. Therefore, it is critical to use experienced probate counsel for probate litigation. It can be a trap for the inexperienced.
Our Probate Litigation Process
At Baker, Burton & Lundy we use our experience to realistically evaluate the best course of action to be taken in complex probate litigation. This combined with our ability to communicate clearly and concisely with clients and opposing counsel minimizes the expense of litigation, both financially and emotionally. Common sense is an ingredient that is sometimes absent from the legal process. Our firm takes pride in bringing common sense to the table. At Baker, Burton & Lundy we use a measuring stick to gauge whether or not we will accept your probate litigation matter. It is very simple: if we do not feel that we can add substantially more benefit to your position than you are likely to pay us for our services, then we do not wish to participate. We believe this position has helped us attract quality long-term clients and grow our practice to where it is today. It is just good business for our clients to receive substantially more benefit than we do. We thank you for considering us.
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To learn more about how Baker, Burton & Lundy’s experienced attorneys can represent or advise you, please call (310) 376-9893 or fill out the form below.