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Imagine you’ve been named as the beneficiary of a trust, but you haven’t received a dime from the trust and it’s not certain that you ever will – yet your state tax collector bills you $1.3 million. A North Carolina woman thought that was unfair, and the United States Supreme Court agreed with her.

It’s not uncommon for an attorney to hear from someone who claims to have been disinherited by a decedent because of undue influence exerted by a family member. As compelling as these cases may seem at first, a closer examination of the facts – especially how the will or trust was prepared – often fails to support a claim of undue influence.

When James Madison drafted the First Amendment, he wasn’t thinking about a squabble between neighbors about the value of a home in Bel Air. But that venerated clause in our nation’s Constitution was a key issue when that disagreement ended up before the California Court of Appeal.

What happens when members of a partnership make careful plans for what will happen when one of the partners dies – but later, when one of them does pass away, they don’t like the outcome? A likely result is that the matter will end up in court, and one such case was recently the subject of a ruling by the California Court of Appeal (Han v. Hallberg.)

Should a truck driver be expected to understand that, by applying for a job in San Francisco, he agreed to give up protections provided by the California Labor Code and to settle any disputes with his employer through arbitration conducted under New York law?

If you go to court seeking to have the terms of a trust enforced, you’d better understand what the trust really says.