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Why Fairness and Legal Results Don’t Always Jive: The Complex Area of Bay Area Trust and Will Lawsuits

You know what your parents wanted, but why does the law of Wills and Trusts make it so hard to obtain the right result? There’s a notion in the law that whatever a person creates, whether it be a Will, Trust, joint tenancy accounts, or joint tenancy titling of real property, it is what that person intended to do. In other words, your parents intended to create a joint account with just one child and exclude the other children. Or, your parent intended to disinherit you after being diagnosed with severe dementia and living in a nursing home. That means it is up to you to prove otherwise; it is up to you to prove your parent’s true intent.

Not only that, but each assets could be held in a different way, which then requires you to file different petitions to challenge each asset. In any given case, we may have to file a Will contest, a Trust contest and a petition to return assets form a joint account. That’s three separate lawsuits in one case just because each asset passes under a different governing law at death. Confused yet?

During life you probably viewed your parent’s assets as a consistent whole—all piled in one basket. But, at death you can have many separate baskets, each containing a different asset, and each governed by different rules.

To overturn what was created (even though it was wrongly created) could take different procedures and rules as well. So even though you know what your parent intended to do, the law is not so easy to navigate. Nor is it easy to implement your parent’s intent.