Now, people who have been disinherited—or otherwise excluded from a trust—are permitted to file trust contests, provided they would become a beneficiary if the court were to rule in their favor.

Why Barefoot vs. Jennings’ Reversal Is Important

The initial ruling in Barefoot vs. Jennings came with a lot of implications. Only named trust beneficiaries were able to initiate contests, so people who were wrongfully disinherited had no means to challenge the trust.

While trusts are typically harder to challenge than wills, prospective beneficiaries can still stake a claim if they believe the trust was compromised through:

  • Fraud
  • Duress
  • The trustor was not of sound mind at the time of the trust’s signing or alteration

The California Supreme Court’s reconsideration of Barefoot vs. Jennings means that people who have the legal grounds to claim they were wrongfully excluded from a trust can now challenge the trust—even if they are not among its named beneficiaries.


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.