Contesting a Trust - How will my family react? Los Angeles Trust Litigation Attorney

How to Contest a Trust From Home

Today’s technologies have made contesting a trust easier than you think. We have substantial experience working with remote clients who never physically come into our offices, provide hard-copy documents, and physically never go to court, yet we’ve been able to help them obtain their rightful inheritance and trust distributions. Whatever challenge you may be facing that may make addressing an estate conflict, will contest, or trust dispute difficult if not impossible, we’re here to let you know that help is out there. Here’s a guide to getting what you deserve.

What are the steps to contesting a trust?

Contesting a trust is quite common. And because most trust contests are settled out of court, it’s entirely possible that you won’t ever even have to physically go to court to get your rightful inheritance. In fact, through our use of various technologies, you likely won’t ever need to meet in person, provide hard copies of documents, or otherwise leave the comfort of your home. Initial case evaluation can be done over Zoom, Skype, Facetime or GoToMeeting. Documents can be gathered via email, Dropbox, etc. And follow up can be done telephonically, or via email, text or Zoom, Skype or Facetime. Contesting a trust has never been easier. Let’s take a look.

In pursuing a trust contest, the vast majority of the most common steps involved in contesting a trust can be accomplished without your in-person appearance in court or at your attorney’s office:

  • Contact a trust litigation attorney
    Technology used: Email, telephone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, GotoMeeting, etc.
  • Discuss your situation
    Technology used: Email, telephone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting, etc.
  • Determine grounds for contesting a trust (e.g., undue influence, lack of capacity, etc.)
    Technology used: Email, telephone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting, etc.
  • Gather documents
    Email, Dropbox, etc.
  • Prepare and send the demand letter to opposing parties; negotiate resolution, if possible
    Technology used: Your lawyer
  • Prepare and file the contest petition
    Technology used: Your lawyer; electronic filing; service
  • Attend court hearings
    Technology used: Your lawyer; Court call
  • Client updates:
    Technology used: Email, telephone, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting, etc.
  • Negotiate resolution, if possible
    Technology used: Your lawyer; virtual mediation

Can I contest a trust online? Is there such a thing as an online trust contest?

No, you cannot. The courts currently do not have a process for pursuing a trust contest online. The next best thing is to hire a trust litigation attorney who can use available technologies to gather your information and documents, prepare, file and serve any necessary court documents, handle your court hearings for you, and negotiate a favorable resolution. All communications and document gathering can be done electronically, whether webcam or virtual meeting using Zoom, Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting, etc.

However, your trust isn’t truly contested online. The truth is that a trust contest is generally resolved through mediation. And mediation consists of clients and attorneys talking, debating, and drafting documents. However, none of these things require a client and attorney to be in the same room, speaking in-person. Virtually all mediation can occur by phone, email, web conference, and electronic document sharing/signing.

Can I speak to my trust attorney virtually?

Yes, it is entirely legal to have nearly all contact with your trust attorney via telephone, email, text, Zoom, Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting, or other video conference. There is nothing that requires your in-person visit to an attorney’s office, nor for them to visit you. In fact, after the attorney and client have established a relationship, the reality is that most communications over the phone or email, at the client’s preference and instruction.

Can I sign trust contest documents with an e-signature or electronic signature?

Yes, most courts allow you to electronically or virtually sign most trust litigation documents that will be filed with the court. Through the use of docusign and other similar technologies, these processes are fast and easy. Even if you don’t have access to these technologies, there are other ways for you to authorize the use of your approved e-signature or electronic signature. At RMO, we use a combination of these technologies in many, many cases for a host of reasons, and we use secure document portals that makes the process fast, simple, and secure for our clients.

Can I file court documents electronically?

Yes, through your trust litigation attorney, who has access to file electronically with most courts, any and all forms and documents required to be filed with the court can be accomplished electronically, via email or a probate court website. This saves time, money and aggravation.

Can I file a court motion online?

Yes. Many courts also allow the electronic filing of motions, which again saves time, money and aggravation. What’s more, many courts require you make an online motion reservation prior to even filing your motion electronically. The entire process has been streamlined by technology.

Can I get my rightful inheritance online?

It depends on how you define “online.” As we’ve described here, technology has advanced to such a level that essentially you can, with the help of your trust litigation attorney, process your trust contest to get your rightful inheritance largely “online.”

What are grounds for contesting a trust?

Some of the most common grounds for contesting a trust include: fraud, mistake, undue influence, and incapacity. We spend every day handling cases for clients whose parents and loved ones were the victims of fraud, mistake, undue influence or duress by caregivers, siblings, stepmothers, and trusted family members, or incapacity, especially with baby boomers advancing in age.

What are grounds for suing a trustee?

One of the most common grounds for suing a trustee is for a Breach of Fiduciary Duty. While it’s common to contest a trust, you can certainly also sue a trustee if he, she or an institutional trustee failed to act in your best interests. State Probate Code dictates that a trustee must act for the benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries. If you suspect that a trustee committed a breach of fiduciary duty, contact a trust litigation attorney immediately. The clock may be ticking. The sooner consult counsel, the more likely you are to regain your rightful inheritance and distributions.

What is a breach of trust?

A breach of trust most commonly refers to a trustee’s breach of fiduciary duty. A trustee is required to act prudently and consistently with what a reasonable trustee would do in a similar circumstance. Trustees cannot play favorites, act in a manner that does not benefit the trust beneficiaries, etc. In essence, a trustee has a fiduciary duty to put trust beneficiaries’ interests first, and when they do not they most likely will have breached a fiduciary duty.

When do I need a trust litigation attorney?

The moment you suspect a breach of trust, embezzlement, or a trustee stealing from a trust, it’s time to contact a trust litigation attorney. Many trust lawyers will offer a free consultation, and many won’t charge you a thing unless you obtain a settlement or are successful at trial.

How do I choose a trust litigation attorney?

Choosing the right trust litigation attorney is important. Here are three elements to look for:

  1. Look for a trust litigation attorney with experience investigating, prosecuting and defending your specific legal claims.
  2. Look for a trust litigation attorney with whom you feel comfortable and have a good report. Litigation is emotionally taxing and can be a long experience. While many people think they want a “shark” or a “pitbull,” the reality is that you want someone who understands you and your case, listens to you and your goals, and has a strategy to achieve your goals. You want someone who has and is able to execute upon a sound strategy aimed at getting you the best result in the least amount of time and for the least legal spend. That’s the sweet spot.
  3. Look for a trust litigation attorney who is able to meet your financial needs. If you are unable to fund the litigation, find a contingency trust litigation lawyer. If your lawyer believes in you and your case, they should have no problem offering a contingent fee or a hybrid fee arrangement.

Do I need a trust lawyer near me?

We recommend finding an experienced trust attorney familiar with the county probate court in the county where the trust is located. For example, if the beneficiary lives in San Diego, yet the trust is in Los Angeles, we recommend working with a trust lawyer in Los Angeles. A Los Angeles trust lawyer will generally be more familiar with the Los Angeles Superior Court Probate Division, versus an out of state attorney.

Call (424) 320-9444 for a free consultation

Read More

The Guide to Family Trust Embezzlement and Stealing
Can I Contest My Parents’ Will in California?
Contesting a Trust: How Will My Family React?

About RMO Lawyers, LLP

RMO LLP provides personal and efficient inheritance dispute services to individual and institutional clients. The firm’s attorneys focus on probate litigation involving contested trust, estate, probate, and conservatorship matters. Serving California and Texas, with offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Orange County, San Diego, Fresno, the Bay Area, Dallas, and Houston. For more information, please visit

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About the Author

Scott Rahn, Founding Partner

Scott Rahn resolves contests, disputes and litigation related to trusts, estates and conservatorships, creating a welcome peace of mind for clients. He represents heirs, beneficiaries, trustees and executors. He utilizes his experience to develop and implement strategies that swiftly and efficiently address the financial issues, fiduciary duties and emotional complexities underlying trust contests, estates conflicts and probate litigation.

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