We represent trustees, beneficiaries, and heirs in cases involving trust contest, a disputed trust amendment, claims of breach of fiduciary duty, trust accounting, fiduciary misconduct and fraud, trustee theft, investment mismanagement, waste financial elder abuse, incapacity, and undue influence.

What is Trust Litigation?

Trust litigation refers to legal disputes or conflicts involving trusts. A trust is a legal arrangement where one party, the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold assets or property for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). 

Trust litigation can arise for various reasons, such as disputes over the interpretation of the trust document, disagreements among beneficiaries, allegations of trustee misconduct or breach of fiduciary duty, challenges to the validity of the trust, or claims of undue influence or coercion in creating or amending the trust.

Trust litigation can be complex and may involve various legal issues, including contract law, property law, fiduciary duty, and sometimes even aspects of family law or estate planning. Trust disputes often require skilled legal representation and may be resolved through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation in court. 

The outcome of trust litigation can have significant implications for the parties involved and the administration of the trust assets.

What Does a Trust Litigation Attorney Do?

The trust administration process is complex, from managing disputes to fulfilling the wishes of the trust’s creator. The legal and personal challenges after the loss of a loved one can bring disputes that complicate the distribution of the estate.

Legal expertise from an experienced trust litigation attorney can make all the difference in supporting beneficiaries and trustees in these disputes and many different matters surrounding a trust.

To protect yourself as a trustee, you should work with an experienced trust attorney to ensure you are discharging your legal duties.

Interpreting the Trust

A clear and precise interpretation of the trust from the start of the process will minimize the risk of disputes and conflicts among beneficiaries. Our team will ensure clarity and understanding of the deceased’s intentions so that beneficiaries receive a fair and justified distribution.

Carrying Out Financial Obligations

Trust litigation lawyers provide invaluable support in ensuring the financial obligations designated in the trust are distributed appropriately. We’ll guide you in the right direction for managing and executing the financial responsibilities outlined by the trust so that it maintains compliance with both legal requirements and the wishes of the deceased.


When disputes arise, litigation may be the only option. We provide support to clients in legal proceedings to help you resolve trust-related disputes and receive the best possible outcome. Whether in the courtroom, through direct negotiations, or through alternative resolution methods like mediation or arbitration, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Selling Property and Making Other Important Decisions

Property can be a complicated factor during the trust administration process, and determining how to properly manage property assets of the deceased can be a source of conflict. We assist in the decision-making process related to property transactions and will resolve disputes to protect the interests of the trust and its beneficiaries.

Protecting Yourself Against Liabilities

Trustees and other parties run the risk of liability when distributing assets from a trust. A trust litigation attorney protects clients throughout the process by ensuring they adhere to laws and regulations during the administration of the trust. Our lawyers at RMO take proactive strategies and offer thorough guidance to mitigate risks and protect client interests.

Making Distributions

Ensuring smooth trust distributions in line with the deceased’s wishes can, at times, be easier said than done. We’ll oversee fair and lawful distributions from the trust to its beneficiaries. We’ll take the appropriate steps to ensure a smooth transfer of assets and avoid disputes whenever possible.

Common Trust Litigation Disputes

Trust litigation can result in a variety of potential disputes, from trust theft to misinterpretations of decedent interests. At RMO, we have experience dealing with a range of disagreements and challenges and a proven track record of assisting clients in navigating trust litigation disputes. We handle all of the following disputes and more.

Trust Theft & Misappropriation

Trust theft and misappropriation refer to a trustee or other party’s illegal or unauthorized use of trust assets. We’ll defend families and beneficiaries against trust theft from trustees ensuring their rightful distributions as intended by the deceased without disruptions to the process.

Trust Fraud

Trust fraud disputes can occur when a trustee or executor provides false information, conceals assets, or misrepresents facts related to the trust or estate. Our lawyers will assist in identifying and addressing fraudulent activities to protect the intentions of the trust and interests of the beneficiaries.

Trust Administration

Many complexities can arise in the administration of a trust, often surrounding disagreements regarding the execution of a trust’s desired terms. We have extensive expertise in interpreting trust terms and resolving trust administration disputes to ensure the process remains in alignment with the deceased’s wishes.

Trust Accounting

Managing the accounting involved in trust administration requires a detailed process—otherwise, it can lead to discrepancies in the distribution of funds and concerns about the accuracy of accounting. We’ll support you by meticulously examining financial records, rectifying errors, and ensuring transparent and accurate reporting of trust assets and distributions.

Trust Petitions

A trust petition is typically the first step to bringing the trust into the court system and placing it under the supervision of the probate court. In some circumstances, like disputes over trust terms or concerns surrounding trustees, beneficiaries or interested parties may file petitions related to the trust in search of legal intervention.

We support clients in handling the trust petition process, including steps from initiating legal action to responding effectively to protect client interests. Some common petitions are Petitions for Instructions to provide clarity and direction and Petitions to Approve Acts to urge a trustee to take action.

Trust Amendment & Distribution Disputes

Trust amendment and distribution disputes arise when parties experience conflict surrounding amendments to the original trust document or disagree over asset distribution. We guide clients in navigating complex legal nuances, ensuring equitable trust distribution, and addressing disputes from trust amendments.

Trustee Removal, Suspension, Resignation

In some proceedings, conflicts may arise that require action against a trustee and may even include prompt removal, suspension, termination, or resignation. RMO Lawyers can provide support on both sides of these disputes to protect the integrity of the trust and the deceased’s intentions.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Trustees are responsible for ensuring a trust is administrated under the wishes of the deceased as laid out by the trust. Failures can arise when the trustee mismanages assets, fails to communicate adequately, or fails to distribute income appropriately.

Beneficiaries have a right to file a dispute for the sake of receiving their outlined allocations. Our trust litigation attorneys identify potential breaches, hold trustees accountable, and seek appropriate remedies to rectify the impact on the trust.

Trust Dementia, Incapacity & Undue Influence Claims

In trust administration, disputes can arise due to concerns about mental capacity, dementia, or undue influence on individuals during the creation or modification of a trust. We have expertise in handling these sensitive cases and can offer legal avenues to address claims surrounding mental incapacity and undue influence.

Elder Financial Abuse & Exploitation Claim

Unfortunately, circumstances can arise where parties utilize the trust administration process to exploit elderly individuals for financial gain. Our attorneys are committed to protecting vulnerable individuals throughout the process, which can include pursuing legal action against perpetrators and helping to safeguard a trust’s assets.

When Should I Contact A Trust Litigation Attorney?

The best way to protect yourself is to contact a probate lawyer or trust attorney as soon as you consent to serve as trustee. An experienced trust lawyer can help you ensure you fulfill your legal obligations and avoid taking actions that could subject you to personal liability.

Even if you didn’t retain an attorney when you began serving as trustee, a trust litigation lawyer can help you at any time an issue arises. If you’ve been accused of wrongdoing such as breach of trust, you should contact a trust litigation attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options and, possibly, avoid or at least manage your potential liability.

Our Case Results

RMO has a proven track record of protecting people and defending legacies.

















Trust Amendment Invalidated for Undue Influence
After trial, awarded a seven-figure judgment, plus attorney’s fees and costs on behalf of the elderly niece of the decedent, where auntie’s neighbor/caregiver used undue influence to connive her way into becoming the primary beneficiary of her trust shortly before she passed.
Defense of Trustee Against Breach of Fiduciary Duty for Imprudent Investments
Defended the successor trustee of a family trust against claims from his brother that he had breached his fiduciary duty to invest trust assets prudently when a concentrated commodity position he amassed lost essentially all its value swiftly. The probate court denied the charge on evidence presented by RMO that the trust’s broad investment powers and the deceased settlor’s speculative investment meant there the investment loss could not constitute a breach.
Recovery of Stolen Trust Property + Double Damages and Attorney’s Fees
Representing the successor professional fiduciary trustee, secured a seven-figure probate court judgment, plus double damages, attorney’s fees and costs in recovering real property that had been transferred and stolen by an unscrupulous trust beneficiary.
Addressing Grandma’s Stolen Home
On behalf of the granddaughter administrator of grandma’s probate estate, secured a judgment against grandma’s daughter and son-in-law to recover title to grandma’s home and monies wrongfully withdrawn against the property.
Dependent Adult Financial Abuse Remedied
Secured the intestate probate estate of our clients, the rightful heirs of their cousin’s estate, who had fallen prey to an ex-con drug dealer “friend” who had coerced the cousin to sign will documents while dying in his hospital bed.
Thieving Neighbor’s Financial Elder Abuse Rectified, With Double Damages
Representing the institutional successor trustee of a family trust, obtained a financial elder abuse judgment against a neighbor “friend” abuser who had taken significant sums of money from an elderly man just months before he died, including double damages interest, attorney’s fees and costs.
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Summary Adjudication of Disinherited Beneficiary’s Trust Contest
Swiftly secured the dismissal of a trust contest of a disgruntled, disinherited trust beneficiary on a motion after strategically allowing the trust contest period to expire before serving a notice of proposed action to distribute trust assets to the trust’s remaining beneficiaries and nothing to the disinherited beneficiary.
Secured Family’s Business Legacy
Representing the successor family trustee, secured the generational family business for the decedent’s heirs by acquiring from a disgruntled beneficiary their interest in the family business on extremely favorable terms that will allow the family to continue operating the family business for future generations to come.
Defense of Financial Elder Abuse Claim Against Surviving Spouse Trustee
Successfully defended a surviving spouse trustee against financial elder abuse and other claims made by family members who said she had fraudulently transferred assets to herself from her late husband’s trust and estate.
Prevented Trustee Removal for Badly-Lawyered Trust Accounting
Staved off suspension, removal and surcharge for a trustee who had failed to properly or timely provide court-ordered trust accountings to trust beneficiaries and was staring down an imminent deadline, as well as suspension, removal and surcharge.
Trustee Removal for Fraud
Neutralized and secured removal of a hostile co-trustee who was attempting to bilk our client’s trust of millions of dollars through a series of fabricated claims.
Thieving Trustee Removed and Surcharged
Secured removal of a thieving co-trustee daughter whose malfeasance left her own mother destitute and unable to pay her bills, including recovery of the stolen assets, attorney fees and costs.
Trust Beneficiary Dispute Squashed & Partition Avoided
Swooped in on behalf of an institutional trustee after years of protracted litigation to secure a decision from the Los Angeles probate court to end a years-long dispute between feuding siblings over the distribution of their parents’ estate, avoiding distribution of assets in-kind, which would have only resulted in partition.
Sub-Trust Allocations Defended
Client’s mother survived step-dad and succeeded him as trustee of their family trust. After mom passed, step-dad’s children alleged she had improperly allocated trust assets to favor her survivor’s trust, which went to our client, over the marital trust, which went to step-dad’s children. Using historic appraisals and valuations, demonstrated the disputed allocation was reasonable, resolving the dispute.
Inept Trustee Removed & Client Appointed Successor Trustee to Save Estate
Non-responsive and ineffective trustee who had done little to nothing to administer the trust or protect trust assets from waste following decedent’s passing was removed and our client appointed as successor trustee by the probate court, avoiding further damage.
Racist Trustee Removed and Surcharged
Removed and obtained surcharge of a non-beneficiary family trustee who hurled racial epthets at our client, refused to account, and tried to sell the house intended for our sole trust beneficiary client out of spite, securing the home for our client and her family.
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Mom’s House and Legacy Saved from Foreclosure
Prevented foreclosure of mom’s house - the estate’s only significant asset - by securing ex parte appointment as Special Administrator and then obtaining a temporary restraining order preventing the home’s foreclosure so the property could be sold, securing mom’s legacy for her children and grandchildren.
Family Jewels Recovered
On behalf of a professional fiduciary, convinced the probate court to award our client double damages, attorney’s fees and costs in addition to recovery of significant personal property wrongfully taken from - and refused to be returned to - the estate.
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Saving the Family Farm
Helped family members recover ownership of the multi-million dollar family farm that had been transferred out of an irrevocable trust improperly by an unscrupulous trustee through the fraudulent use of a decanting statute.
Estate Administrator’s Fraudulent Probate Accounting Revealed
Represented decedent’s children in a contested probate accounting over various expenses the administrator attempted to charge against the estate, and then further successfully obtained an order from the court shifting a portion of the client’s fees and cost to several unrepresented heirs through a “common fund” theory of fee recovery.
“Death Bed” Trust Amendment Thwarted
Within weeks, secured evidence sufficient to convince the surviving step-parent perpetrator of a “death bed” trust amendment that disinherited our client to abandon the amendment and pay our client his high seven-figure inheritance.
Holographic Trust Amendment Neutered
Secured summary judgment on behalf of a trust beneficiary where the trustee claimed a holographic trust amendment halved our client’s inheritance, resulting in our client receiving her full inheritance and the trust paying her attorney’s fees and costs.
Invalidated Assignment of Elder Beneficiary’s Interest
Secured an elderly client’s rightful inheritance from her brother’s estate, invalidating the ill-gotten assignment the brother’s widow and her attorney had secured from her using subterfuge and without advising her to seek her own counsel.
Disputed Heirship Recognized
Effectuated heirship for the secret scion daughter of the decedent, who learned of his daughter only late in life and came to celebrate their relationship and hold her out to his community and confidants, but refrained from sharing their relationship with his wife and daughter, which led to disputed heirship after he passed.
Another “Death Bed” Trust Amendment Avoided
Within 45 days of engagement, secured 125% of our clients’ original bequests, plus attorney’s fees and costs, from their long-time friend’s estate after the 85 year-old decedent’s new “husband” unduly influenced the creation of a trust amendment to take the entirety of the estate for himself.
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Third Time’s The Charm - Eight Figure Trust Saved for Surviving Spouse
Represented the surviving spouse of her deceased husband’s high eight figure trust estate, which, through some ill-advised estate planning, had left the client as a co-fiduciary with her estranged stepson and a bungling property manager. Prior litigation with previous counsel resulted only in our client’s resignation, which allowed the bunglers to further waste trust assets. Secured a final, global resolution for the surviving spouse that secured the resignations of the “bad” trustees and replaced them with an institutional trustee who is working to remedy their bad acts and save the estate.
Long Overdue Child Support Secured from Deadbeat Dad’s Estate
Represented former spouse in collecting long-unpaid child support through creditor’s claim procedure from her ex-husband’s estate.
Retirement Benefits Secured for Surviving Spouse
Represented the surviving spouse in successfully defending her status as beneficiary of her deceased husband’s retirement benefits against contest by the decedent’s former wife and children, who had claimed lack of capacity and undue influence.
Disposed of Interloping Ex-Spouse’s Trust Contest
Represented the surviving spouse trustee of her deceased husband’s trust against a trust contest on the grounds of incapacity and undue influence by the husband’s first wife - and his children from that marriage - all of whom had been disinherited by the decedent. Deployed tried and true probate litigation tactics to put the interlopers to task, which resulted in the court dismissing their claims, saving significant time and money.
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Online Romance Fraud Halted
Established an emergency conservatorship of the estate of a divorcee who had been ensnared by Nigerian fraudsters,who had infiltrated, isolated, defrauded and unduly influenced her into sending them millions, leaving her destitute and unable to buy food.
Conservatee Protected, Financial Advisor Fraudster Barred from Industry
Represented a court-appointed guardian ad litem in securing a prosecution agreement with counsel for the conservator of an institutionalized dementia patient who was taken advantage of financially by her financial advisor, leading to his permanent bar from the financial services industry.
Protected Elder Father from His Own Daughters
On behalf of his wife, established conservatorship of an elderly man over the protests of his daughters, who were his attorneys-in-fact and nominated conservators, living rent-free in his properties, and had repeatedly threatened to withhold caregiving. Secured ex parte suspension of the daughters’ powers of attorney and appointment of a private professional fiduciary to protect dad, which was granted by probate court.
Grandmother Safeguarded
Secured appointment of a private professional fiduciary for grandmother on behalf of grandson, and over the objections of grandson’s aunt, who, along with her husband, had been exploiting grandma financially, securing grandma’s return home and well being.
Guardianships for Kidnapped Parent
In two separate cases, established a guardianship for our client on behalf of their parent after the parent was secretly moved across state lines by our clients’ siblings so the kidnapping sibling could take financial advantage of the parent.
Conservatorship Thwarted
Defeated wife’s attempt to have herself appointed as conservator for husband when dad resisted wife’s efforts to unduly influence him to change his estate plan in her favor.
Conservatorship Financial Abuser Defeated
Defeated financial abusing neighbor’s attempts to establish himself as conservator for his elderly neighbor, from whom he had transferred her properties into his name, added himself to her accounts, and changed her estate planning documents to name himself as executor, trustee and sole beneficiary.
Parents Protected from Feuding Daughters
Represented the private professional fiduciary appointee in securing appointment in contested conservatorships for mom and dad where the parents had become the victims of their daughters’ infighting and efforts to control them and their finances.
Two Dads Protected from their Feuding Sons
In separate cases, secured appointment of a private professional fiduciary to serve as conservator for each dad to protect him from a ne'er do well son who was taking advantage of him financially.
Conservatorship for Wandering Mom
On behalf of daughter, established conservatorship for mom, whose dementia manifested itself in part in wandering, over the objection of mom’s live-in boyfriend, who failed to protect mom from wandering and, investigation showed, was taking financial advantage of mom.
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Jurisdiction ≠ Forum Non Convenience
In a published opinion, obtained reversal of a lower court decision confusing jurisdiction with forum non conviens, re-establishing the trust beneficiary’s right to continue prosecuting his fraud, undue influence, and financial elder abuse claims.
Settlement Approved, Confirmed and Enforced
Represented trustee, at trial and on appeal, to enforce a settlement agreement addressing his co-trustee’s a breach of fiduciary duties, after the offending co-trustee fraudulently claimed he had satisfied his obligations under the agreement.
Trust Contest Win Buttressed
Successfully defended trustee and sole beneficiary against trust contest by disinherited heir. Then, when the trial judge erroneously entered judgment creating potential exposure for subsequent litigation, prevailed on appeal to modify the judgment to insulate the trustee from any possible further litigation.
Life Insurance Proceeds Confirmed as Trust Asset
Represented trustee of irrevocable trust in a published appellate decision confirming the trust could be funded properly with life insurance proceeds even though all formalities typically required by the terms of the life insurance policy had not been satisfied.
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Forged Estate Planning Documents Disregarded
Secured the estate of our client’s late father, who had been victimized by childhood friends who had forged estate planning documents to steal his estate from his family.
Fraudulent Property Transfers Invalidated
Secured return of our client’s home value after her daughter and son-in-law moved into the home under the guise of “helping” her, only to defraud her into signing documents signing her home over to them, after which they forced her out of her home.
Caregiver “Girlfriend’s” Grift Righted
Recovered the home of an infirm, institutionalized senior who had been victimized by his “girlfriend,” an opportunistic volunteer at his care facility, securing his golden years.
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Who Can Hire a Trust Litigation Attorney?

The trust administration process often involves several parties, and many can benefit from a trust litigation attorney depending on the circumstances. 

At RMO, we support clients in the following areas of trust litigation to provide legal guidance in the process, ensure proper management of responsibilities under the law, and oversee a fair distribution of assets while preserving the wishes of the deceased.


Be advised that the RMO Client Relations Team will reach out prior to your scheduled time, as our policy requires that we gather additional information concerning the parties to your case before we can confirm your consultation. In the event that we are unable to reach you, regrettably, we will need to cancel your requested consultation.

Communication Disclaimer

Please note that communications by you to RMO LLP or any of its lawyers through this website do not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the firm. Do not send any privileged or confidential information to the firm through this website or otherwise until instructed in writing from us to do so. 

Learn More

Do I Need a Lawyer As a Trustee?

While you are not legally required to retain a lawyer to accomplish many of your fiduciary duties as trustee, working with a trust attorney is generally a good idea for professional and family/friend trustees alike, particularly if you have not administered a trust before or you’re unfamiliar with a specific trust or some of its …

How Much Should a Trustee Be Paid in Fees?

Trustees are tasked with the trying —and often thankless— job of managing trust assets to benefit the trust’s beneficiaries. In exchange for their services, California Probate Code §15681 allows trustees to receive “reasonable compensation.” However, if the trust document itself specifies different pay arrangements, then under Probate Code §15680, trustees are legally entitled to be compensated according to the terms of the trust.



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