Can a Sibling Contest a Trust in California?

When your parent passes away, you and your siblings may become closer than you’ve ever been. But sometimes, in the wake of a parent’s passing, old sibling rivalries surface and cause a rift between them. Whether it’s because one sibling feels their inheritance is unjustly small or they feel wrongly excluded from the trust altogether, many beneficiaries like you may wonder, Can a sibling contest a trust in California? The answer is complicated. 

At Gokal Law Group, we have helped countless beneficiaries defend their inheritance against vindictive siblings. Learn whether or not a sibling can contest a trust in our blog. 

Related Article: The Emotional Toll on Siblings Contesting a Trust in California

Can a Sibling Contest a Trust in California?

Generally speaking, only beneficiaries of a family trust and the heirs of the person who created it can contest its terms or formation. Beneficiaries are individuals named in the trust instrument, while heirs are relatives like children (i.e. siblings) or spouses. So if your sibling is either a beneficiary or heir, then they can contest a trust in California.

If a sibling can demonstrate wrongful exclusion or other valid reasons to challenge the trust, they have the power to do so. But complicated family dynamics add a wrinkle of complexity to these cases.

In October 2023, the California Court of Appeal issued a  groundbreaking ruling in California inheritance law that has transformed trust litigation when stepchildren and foster children are involved: Estate of Martino (2023) 96 Cal.App.5th 596. 

“The Martino Estate case in which a stepson from a decedent’s previous marriage petitioned to become a legal heir has changed the terrain for step-siblings, even from previous marriages, to be legal heirs and have the right to contest a trust if they can prove the deceased was their natural parent, meaning the deceased received the foster or step-child in their home and held out the child as their natural child per Probate Code Sections 6540 and 6453 and Family Code Section 7611.” 

–  Nicholas D. Porrazzo, California Trust Litigation Lawyer, Gokal Law Group

Related Article: What to Consider When There Are Siblings Contesting a Trust in California

Are You a Beneficiary Defending Your Inheritance Against a Sibling? Work With a Trust Attorney in California!

So, can a sibling contest a trust in California? Generally speaking, yes, and this could extend to step-siblings and even foster children with new developments in California inheritance law. You deserve to work with a trust litigation attorney in Orange County who will fight for you and deliver justice.

Visit our Contact Us page to schedule a consultation and work with a trust litigation attorney in California for premier, battle-tested representation that gives you an advantage in the courtroom and will help you move on from this trying time.   


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