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Thinking of contesting a trust? Don't wait until it's too late

In the days, weeks and months following the death of a loved one, people often struggle to try to adapt to a new norm. This can certainly be overwhelming, upsetting and seemingly impossible when you are consumed by sadness and grief, but understand that things change over time.

While time is critical to giving people the space to grieve and recover, it can also work against you if you are considering contesting a loved one's will or trust. It is understandable that this would not be your top priority after a devastating loss, but unfortunately, there is a clock ticking on your legal options.

For instance, music legend Prince passed away almost exactly one year ago. He did not have a will at the time of his death, so his estate had to go through the probate process. 

During probate, parties can contest a will or trust and any disputes regarding debts owed will be settled. If you wait too long to file a claim or contest, you could be out of luck.

In the case of Prince's estate, for instance, an attorney filed a claim to collect almost $600,000 from the estate. The money was reportedly for the singer's divorce, which happened 10 years ago. The trust administrators denied the request, and a judge also rejected the request citing a missed deadline to contest the administrators' decision.

This should serve as an important reminder to people here in California that you do not have all the time in the world to contest a trust and pursue property owed to you. According to state laws, an action to contest a trust must be brought within 120 days of receiving notification of the trust.

Your legal options may be the last things on your mind in the aftermath of a loved one's death. However, while you should certainly focus on your family and the grieving process, do not make the mistake of assuming you can deal with the legal details of a death whenever you want. There are time restraints and deadlines that must be observed.

If you have questions about statutes of limitations or other limits related to estate planning, it is crucial that you consult an attorney sooner, rather than later. 

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