Trust litigation may be necessary to revoke an irrevocable trust

There are often times when an heir or beneficiary may not be happy with how assets are to be distributed after the death of a relative. In some cases, this involves a California irrevocable trust. The question is whether such a trust can be revoked, and that may require trust litigation.

First, it is important to understand the distinction between being an heir and being a beneficiary. An heir is anyone who may inherit property from a decedent under California intestacy law. Beneficiaries include anyone that a decedent specifically identifies in estate planning documents such as wills and trusts. Many people fulfill both roles, but often, those who are heirs — but not beneficiaries — may be the ones who take exception to the terms of an irrevocable trust.

As the name implies, an irrevocable trust cannot easily be revoked. During the life of its creator, revoking it may be easier, but there are no guarantees. After death, any revocation will more than likely require litigation, which proceeds in the same basic manner as contesting a will. The courts require that there is some question regarding the trust creator’s ability to make the trust or that an error in the document itself requires revocation.

Any heir or beneficiary who wants to explore the possibility of initiating trust litigation regarding an irrevocable trust of a deceased loved one may benefit from first discussing the situation with a California attorney who spends a significant amount of time dealing with these types of issues. There may be challenges ahead, but the right advice and assistance could increase the potential for success. If the determination is made that litigation is a viable option, support will already be in place.

Source:, “Can an Irrevocable Trust Be Revoked by Heirs?”, Beverly Bird, Accessed on Nov. 17, 2017

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