Trust & Estate litigation attorneys serving all of Northern California
We Believe in Honesty, Hard Work, and the Lessons of our Experience
Barr & Young represents trustees, beneficiaries, and heirs in disputed estate and trust litigation throughout all of Northern California, including Danville, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Pleasant Hill, Livermore, Pleasanton, Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland. For more than 20 years, our attorneys have tried, litigated, mediated, and settled cases involving every type of dispute concerning:
- breach of fiduciary duty
- compelling trustees to account
- trust and will contests
- contested conservatorships
- elder abuse
- elder abuse restraining orders
- securities and regulatory litigation
If your case involves a conflict with a trustee or executor, if you need an original estate plan, or a review of an existing plan we have you covered.
Our trust litigation attorneys have handled hundreds of lawsuits covering all aspects of trust litigation, including trust contests, breach of fiduciary duty, disputed trust accountings, trustee removal cases, petitions for instructions, and disputes between cotrustees. We represent trustees accused of wrongdoing, as well as beneficiaries when their trustee is dishonest, incompetent, or sometimes just refuses to act.
We typically try to work things out with the other side before filing a petition in probate court, but by the time these disputes reach our office the litigation is often inevitable. If a court case is necessary, our trust litigation attorneys draft the court filings, appear in court on your behalf, conduct discovery, appear at mediation, take depositions, and try the case. We have handled cases throughout California, including San Francisco, Danville, and Walnut Creek.
Probate is a court supervised process of administering a decedent’s estate after they die. Although probate has become less common with the widespread use of living trusts (a probate is generally unnecessary if the decedent had a living trust), when a probate is necessary, our probate attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable about all aspects of the probate process.
A probate proceeding should be filed in the county where the decedent resided at his or her death. Thus, if the decedent lived in Danville or Walnut Creek at his or her death, the probate would be filed in Contra Costa County, while a probate for a decedent who lived in San Francisco would be filed in San Francisco County.
Probate begins with a pleading called a Petition for Probate and Appointment of a Probate Personal Representative. In this pleading the petitioner (usually the person nominated as the executor in the will, asks the court to appoint them as the personal representative of the estate. The petitioner must send a copy of the petition to all the people named in the will and all the decedent’s heirs. If there are no objections from the beneficiaries, the person nominated by the decedent is usually appointed as executor at the first hearing. Once the order appointing the executor is signed, the order is filed with the clerk and the clerk issues the executor documents called “Letters of Administration.” These court-certified documents grant the executor the power to act. Unless the will states that a bond is not required, the executor must obtain a bond and file it with the clerk before letters are issued.
Our probate attorneys are ready to guide you through this process with patience and expertise.
Once letters have issued, the executor may marshal the assets, pay creditors claims, sell real estate, publish a notice to creditors to cut off claims by unknown creditors, have property appraised, and file an inventory and appraisal. The inventory an appraisal is an important step because it identifies all the assets in the estate and the value of each asset. Once the inventory and appraisal is approved, the executor can move to the final stage, which is a petition for approval and final discharge. In this pleading, the executor confirms that all creditors have been paid, no taxes are due, and the estate can be closed. If there are no objections, the petition will typically be approved.
Probate can be a tedious and frustrating process, and it is usually avoided by using a living trust. In the best circumstances, a probate takes about nine months. The fees to the attorney and the executor are determined on a graduated scale listed in Probate Code 10800-10810. Probate attorneys often generalize that the probate fees are about 3% each for the executor and the attorney. Our probate attorneys are ready to guide you through this process with patience and expertise.
Estate planning is the creation of documents to provide for the disposition of a client’s property at their death; to appoint someone to manage their finances and make health care decisions for them if they are incapacitated; and to name guardians for their minor children. A typical estate plan consists of a living trust (sometimes called an inter vivos trust), a “pourover” will, a durable power of attorney for financial affairs, and an advance health care directive.
Estate planning is a central component of a responsible financial plan, and the need to hire an estate planning lawyer increases as one has children and gets older. Our estate planning lawyers often tell clients that they should revisit their estate plan at least three times: Initially, when they have their first child, second when their children become responsible adults, and finally when they are retired or elderly.
Our estate planning lawyers are Loren Barr, a partner, and Heidi Imsand, one of our four associates. Loren has been certified by the State Bar of California as a specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law since 2004. Heidi graduated magna cum laude from UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and passed the bar exam in 2013. She passed the Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law specialization exam in 2017 and has been certified specialist since 2019.
8 Lawyers with 75+ Years of Combined Experience.
Why Should You Choose Barr & Young Attorneys?
- In his 27-year career, Gordon Young has tried or arbitrated over 75 cases to conclusion.
- In his 25th year of practice, Loren Barr has been certified by the State Bar of California as a Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law since 2004.
- We will return your initial call or email inquiry within one hour.*
- We have a team of eight attorneys and two paralegals ready to respond immediately.
- Gordon Young has been a Northern California Super Lawyer every year since 2007, and Loren Barr every year since 2008.
Why Choose Us
- We successfully litigated for and defended against will contests and trust contests involving claims of mental incapacity, undue influence, fraud, duress, and forgery.
- Our lawyers have handled hundreds of trust litigation cases involving breach of fiduciary duty.
- We don’t just litigate trust and estate cases. Because we also draft comprehensive estate plans, we understand how the estate planning process should work, and therefore are in a better position to attack or defend an estate plan when litigation arises.