Trust documentsThis is the next post in my series on disputing a trust in San Bernardino or elsewhere in California. My last post discussed common claims against a Trustee. It is important to understand what a Trustee may or may not be liable for; many people mistakenly believe that they have a claim against a Trustee when, in fact, they do not. In this post I will discuss another important topic – the time frames in which claims must be brought. It is important to understand that if you miss your statute of limitations then you will be barred from disputing the resolution of a Trust. If you wish to file a dispute, then it is important that you contact an attorney immediately.

One who wishes to claim that he or she should have been included in a Trust must file a dispute within a certain number of years depending on the grounds for the contest, and if no notice was provided by the Trustee.  This time limitation may not begin to run, however, until various events occur. When a loved one passes away and leaves a Trust then the administrator (known as the “Trustee”) must give notice to all potential beneficiaries of the Trust and heirs of the decedent. An heir must be given notice even if they are not actually named in the Trust. This means, for example, that if a child of the deceased is not named in the Trust then they must still be given notice as a potential beneficiary. If a beneficiary is not given proper notice, then their time limit to file a claim may not begin to run. A beneficiary who misses their time limit will lose their ability to challenge the Trust. If the trustee gives the proper notice, then the heir or beneficiary only has 60 to 120 days to contest the Trust’s validity.

There is a separate time limit which relates to a Trust’s accounting. When the Trustee has completed the process of wrapping up the Trust’s affairs then they must give a “final accounting” to all of the beneficiaries. A beneficiary has up to three years from the time of the final accounting to dispute how the Trust was liquidated, unless the Trust instrument specifies a shorter time period. This three-year time limit, however, does not begin to run until a beneficiary receives a copy of the final accounting along with a required Notice. The Trustee is required to perform the final accounting unless all beneficiaries agree that one is not necessary. Assuming that an accounting is required, then the time in which to bring an action for breach of trust will not start until it is properly provided.

Understanding these statutes of limitations is important to anyone wishing to dispute a trust. Many people err by thinking that they have more time in which to file a dispute and they are shocked to learn when they are barred from bringing a claim. Also, many believe that they have waited too long to file a claim and feel that they have missed their window of opportunity. These people then never seek to assert their rights. It is quite possible, however, that one’s statute of limitations has either not run or has even not yet begin to run. Consulting a lawyer can help you to understand what rights you may have.

Contact my office today to speak with a San Bernardino trust dispute attorney. I also service Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.