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Trust Litigation & Disputes

Trust, Estate, and Probate Litigation

If you are in a dispute with a trustee, a beneficiary, or a family member, the Kelly Law Firm can assist.  Don’t simply hire the attorney who prepared the trust to represent you.  The attorney who created the estate plan may be a valuable witness and should be separate from the litigation.


Problems that arise in trust, probate, and estate litigation are numerous and nuanced, and require counsel from attorneys who are dedicated to procedure and practice. As a prosecutor and civil litigator, Paul Kelly, Esq. has spearheaded trials before both juries and judges. Today in private practice, Mr. Kelly specializes in the complexities of probate, trust and property law.  Contact the Kelly Law Firm, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Long Beach Trust Litigation and Probate litigation attorneys at (562) 548-7500 for a consultation.

Contesting the Trust/Will - Undue Influence

There are only a handful of ways to contest a will or trust.  The most common means by which a trust can be set aside is that the trust was the product of Undue Influence.  

California Welfare and Institutions Code section 15610.70(a) defines undue influence generally as “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.” California Welfare and Institutions Code sections 15610.70(a)(1)-(4) go on to enumerate factors to be considered. They include:

  1. The victim’s vulnerability, evidence of which may include: “incapacity, illness, disability, injury, age, education, impaired cognitive function, emotional distress, isolation or dependency, and whether the influencer knew or should have known of the alleged victim’s vulnerability."

  2. The influencer’s apparent authority, evidence of which may include: “status as a fiduciary, family member, care provider, healthcare professional, legal professional, spiritual advisor, expert, or other qualification.”

  3. The influencer’s conduct, evidence of which may include: “(a) Controlling necessaries of life, medication, the victim’s interactions with others, access to information, or sleep; (b) Use of affection, intimidation, or coercion; (c) Initiation of changes in personal or property rights, use of haste or secrecy in effecting those changes, effecting changes at inappropriate times and places, and claims of expertise in effecting changes.”

  4. The equity of the challenged result, evidence of which may include: “the economic consequences to the victim, any divergence from the victim’s prior intent or course of conduct or dealing, the relationship of the value conveyed to the value of any services or consideration received, or the appropriateness of the change in light of the length and nature of the relationship.”


Significantly, undue influence doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with lack of mental capacity; one can be unduly influenced while still retaining capacity. The vulnerability of the victim is central to undue influence, as well as the apparent authority of the influencer and the use of manipulation. Undue influence is a particularly sinister form of financial elder abuse.  Many elders do not have significant cognitive impairment, yet are still highly susceptible to undue influence and can be taken advantage of by someone they trust. Some common examples of undue influence are when a family member, friend or caregiver convinces an elderly adult to change a trust or will in his/her favor or when a financial power of attorney mishandles the financial affairs of a senior, taking assets out of the elder’s estate and putting them in the individual’s own name.

On the other hand, allegations of undue influence are often used as bargaining chips by persons who have been disinherited.  If you have been accused of undue influence, immediately call the Kelly Law Firm, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Long Beach Undue Influence attorneys to find out what your rights are.If you believe your loved one has been the victim of undue influence, or if you have been accused of undue influence, immediately call the Kelly Law Firm, Orange County, Los Angeles, and Long Beach Undue Influence attorneys to find out what your rights are.

Litigation with the Trustee/Executor - Removal of the Trustee

A trustee may be removed by a co-trustee or beneficiary for various reasons, the most common of which include: (1) where the trustee has committed a breach of the trust, (2) where the trustee is insolvent or otherwise unfit to administer the trust; (3) where hostility or lack of cooperation among co-trustees impairs the administration of the trust; (4) where the trustee fails or declines to act; and also (5) where the trustee's compensation is excessive under the circumstances.

If you are a beneficiary of a trust, and you believe or have evidence that the trustee is misappropriating assets, not properly administering the trust, or perhaps has refused to respond to your inquiries, immediately contact the attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm to find out what rights you have as a beneficiary.

Request a Price Quote

If you require legal services in the areas of probate, estate administration, wills, trusts, litigation, and elder law/abuse, contact The Kelly Law Firm today for a price quote. Our team of experienced lawyers will provide expert advice and representation to protect your rights and interests. We are committed to upholding the rights and interests of our clients in trust, probate, and estate litigation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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