Excluded From A Trust? Sometimes changes are made to a trust to exclude a person previously named as a beneficiary. To determine the validity of changes to a trust, a Court will often look to the intent of the person who created the trust. In these situations, enlisting a trust attorney would be extremely advantageous.
Probate Code § 21102, requires that “the intention of the transferor as expressed in the instrument controls the legal effect of the dispositions made in the instrument.” If the intent is not clear, case law requires a court to look to the terms of the underlying will to interpret the decree and determine the testator’s true intent.
Often the trust will include a “no contest” clause that prevents a person from challenging their exclusion from the trust. The purpose of a no contest clause is to discourage will contests. A no contest clause essentially acts as a disinheritance device because if a beneficiary contests the trust instrument, the beneficiary will be disinherited. Courts have historically enforced no contest clauses against beneficiaries making such claims if the decedent intended such a result.
No contest clauses are valid in California and are favored by the public policies of discouraging litigation and giving effect to the purposes expressed by the testator. However, if you are excluded from a trust improperly, a no contest clause may not apply to you.
The attorneys at Cottle Keen Lopiccolo & Heyde, LLP have extensive experience in probate and can assist you with your matter.
Contact our office today at (714) 997-7870 to speak with a trust attorney.