Title disputes involving trust property

 In Blog, Estate Administration, Lawsuits & Disputes

As you may or may not know, a “quiet title” action is a court proceeding where the court determines title status and ownership questions related to property.

When a trust is involved, such an action may be brought under Probate Code Section 850. Some examples of causes of action where this might be appropriate include:

  • A question of whether the trust owns real property (Heggstad petition)
  • When property was improperly transferred out of a trust (such as an irrevocable trust for the benefit of others)
  • A claim that property should not have been transferred to a trust, or the transfer is invalid
  • Claims between an estate and surviving spouse
  • Claims regarding spousal or child support rights
  • Joint tenancy disputes

Who can bring an action under Probate Code Section 850?

Depending on the circumstances (specifically described in the code section), any of the following could bring the petition:

  • A guardian
  • A conservator
  • “Any claimant”
  • The personal representative of the decedent’s estate (or “any interested person”)
  • The trustee (or “any interested person”)

What are the advantages (compared to a civil claim)?

There are some advantages and, hence, reason to consider filing the claim under Section 850:

  • Sometimes the trial/hearing can take place sooner
  • The proceeding is usually less expensive
  • The order is often more conclusive (i.e., applies against everyone, not just the litigants)
  • Enhanced remedies (i.e., double damages in some situations, attorneys’ fees, etc.)

What are the disadvantages (compared to a civil claim)?

Compared to a civil claim, there are some disadvantages as well:

  • Venue limitations
  • If a civil action is pending based on the same subject matter, the Section 850 petition must be abated
  • Generally no right to a jury trial

Just keep in mind that if you have a dispute related to a trust or trust property, the probate code offers many options. If you think you may have a case, please contact an attorney who practices trust litigation to determine your options.

Helix Law Firm can help with trust litigation

If you are engaged in a title dispute that involves a trust, Helix Law Firm can help. We can research the title and the circumstances of the transfer, communicate with the other side, and file and litigate the petition in court, if necessary.

If you’re interested in learning more, please call us at (619) 567-4447 to schedule a free consultation.

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