Oxnard Trust & Estate Litigation
Trust and estate litigation matters are particularly contentious and emotionally-charged, especially when the dispute involves family members. A death in the family can rekindle long dormant family disputes and trigger intra-family conflict. The grief suffered over the recent loss of a loved one often creates tension among family members, and this tension can give rise to misdirected anger and ultimately a lawsuit. Many probate, trust and estate disputes are actually disputes over family relationships as much as they are disputes over property.
Nature of Trust and Estate Disputes
A dispute may arise in probate for a variety of reasons. Conflict may occur because of dissatisfaction with the decedent’s estate plan. This frequently happens when an heir is disinherited, or receives a smaller share of the estate than his or her siblings. This can also occur in second marriage scenarios when the decedent’s children are at odds with a stepparent. Conflict may also arise in contested conservatorship proceedings, or in disputes over accountings in conservatorship proceedings.
Disputes can arise over the construction and validity of an estate planning document, or over allegations of fraud, coercion or undue influence. Disagreements are also common between beneficiaries of a trust or estate and a fiduciary. Family members may disagree over who should act as the fiduciary, or the beneficiaries may be concerned about financial decisions or investments made by the fiduciary, or other property management issues. If the fiduciary is also a beneficiary, concerns over potential conflicts of interest, whether real or imagined, can also lead to litigation.
Mediation of Trust and Estate Disputes in Oxnard
When a dispute arises, we often recommend mediation as an alternative to litigation. Mediation provides a less formal and more expeditious way of reaching a resolution, and is significantly less expensive than going to trial. Trust and estate litigation is costly, and we strive to achieve a favorable resolution for our client, with minimal expenditure on attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
Mediation also allows the parties to avoid some of the emotional costs of litigation. Litigation tends to pit one party against another in an adversarial proceeding. In mediation, the parties air their grievances in a private setting, and the confidentiality of the process allows them to openly discuss difficult issues and forge a mutually agreed upon resolution, rather than one which is imposed on them by the court. Because the parties work together to reach a resolution, they are more likely to repair or maintain their relationship.
Trust and Estate Litigation and Appeals
Some disputes cannot be resolved in mediation. In the event that litigation is required, firm principal Mark A. Lester is a California Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law with over 30 years of trust and estate litigation experience. Mr. Lester represented a client in the frequently cited Estate of Odian (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 152, a precedent-setting case that helped shape the law in the area of probate, trust and estate litigation. As a testament to Mr. Lester’s standing in the legal community, the firm receives many referrals from other attorneys who know of our reputation for favorably resolving difficult and challenging cases.