It can be easy to think that an individual who has created an estate plan has initiated a foolproof way to have his or her assets distributed in accordance with his or her wishes.
While this may generally be true, the fact is that oftentimes the distribution of estate assets rests in the hands of an estate administrator or a trustee. Although these individuals have a fiduciary duty, meaning that they must make decisions that are in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, disputes often arise as to whether appropriate actions have been taken.
When a dispute arises, it may be wise to have a hearing in probate court to settle the matter. Under California law, there are a number of justifiable reasons to request a hearing. For example, if interpretation of a trust's terms are in dispute, then arguments can be made to a judge who will then settle the matter.
Also, a beneficiary can seek remedies for harm caused by a trustee's breach of trust, whether intentional or not. Hearings can be held to obtain an accounting from a trustee if he or she has failed to provide it after written request, and a hearing may be held if a trustee is in need of additional instruction on how to appropriately carry out the terms of a trust.
Many times when conflict arises between a trustee and a beneficiary, arguments may be made for the removal of the trustee. These circumstances usually come about when the trustee's handling of a trust's assets fall short of a beneficiary's financial expectations. A lot can be on the line in these cases, which is why it is frequently helpful to have the assistance of a legal professional when dealing with these matters.
Probate litigation can be heated, and there can be a lot of financial value, as well as a testator's vision, at stake. The legal issues that accompany probate litigation can be complicated, too. This means that those who don't have a full understanding of the law can quickly get tripped up, oftentimes resulting in unwanted consequences. For this reason alone, individuals shouldn't try to address these matters on their own. Instead, they should think about reaching out to a legal team that is experienced and competent at handling probate litigation and other estate matters.