What Causes Trust Disputes?

Setting up a revocable trust or irrevocable trust is an effective estate planning strategy. Trusts can help you avoid probate and maintain privacy in the allocation of your property. However, trust disputes threaten to use up valuable resources that you have reserved for your loved ones.

At Business Estate & Tax Attorneys, P.C., our trust dispute lawyer in Orinda will work closely with you to anticipate any issues. He will establish a strong plan to guard against trust disputes. Here, we discuss the most common trust dispute causes. Contact us to learn more about how to avoid trust disputes and to set up your personalized estate plan.

Common Causes of Trust Disputes

Some of the most common causes of trust disputes in California are:


When a child or other loved one is disinherited, they are often shocked. They might wonder if you were coerced or unduly influenced into excluding them. However, you may have very good reasons for wanting to disinherit certain individuals. An experienced trust disputes lawyer can help you craft your estate plan in a way that minimizes the likelihood of disputes.

Misunderstandings and Lack of Communication

Sometimes, your trust may be structured perfectly, but problems may still arise because your beneficiaries have issues with the trustee. Disputes alleging trust fraud or poor trustee administration are often due to misunderstandings or a lack of communication between your beneficiaries and trustee. An experienced trust lawyer can work closely with you to craft clear language and recommend a trustee.

Capacity Issues

One of the most common causes of trust disputes in California is questioning the trust maker’s capacity. Testamentary capacity under California law requires a testator to:

  • Understand the action he or she is taking
  • Understand and remember what property he or she owns
  • Understand his or her relations to family members and others who are affected by the legal instrument

Undue Influence

Undue influence occurs when someone else’s manipulation is so strong that it overcomes your free will. If your adult children believe that your new spouse made you freeze them out of your estate plan, they might try to argue it was caused by undue influence. However, California law sets a high bar for finding undue influence. If the issue is litigated, California courts evaluate a number of factors, such as whether the person who influenced you had authority over you or control of your necessities. Working with an experienced trust lawyer is the best way to prevent or defend against such challenges.

Difficult Emotions

If you are disabled or your family is struggling with your recent death, they are likely experiencing difficult emotions. These emotions compounded with other issues like feeling frozen out of an inheritance or mistreated by a trustee sometimes result in legal challenges to a trust.

How BETA Law Can Help

The best way to guard against a trust dispute is to work with an experienced trust lawyer to craft a well-worded trust document. Attorney Leighton Burrey is an accomplished trust dispute attorney in the Bay Area with a deep background in estate planning and litigation. He founded Business Estate & Tax Attorneys, P.C., as a full-service law firm for individuals who need sophisticated legal guidance in planning for the future and navigating complex challenges.

If you would like to learn more about how to avoid trust disputes or you are currently in the middle of a dispute, contact us today. We provide a free consultation and are ready to take your call.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for general purposes only, and it is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.