Since individuals can represent themselves in court, in the case where a real property is owned by a trust, is it legal for any of the trustees to represent the trust in court or must an attorney represent the trust?
No, the proper party to the litigation is the trustee of the trust, and the trustee must be represented by counsel.
See generally Merco Constr. Engineers, Inc. v. Municipal Court (1978) 21 Cal. 3d 724, 729. See also Van Gundy v. Camelot Resorts, Inc. (1983) 152 Cal.App.3d Supp. 29, 32; and Gamet v. Blanchard (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 1276, 1284, n. 5; Corporations Code sections 17003, 17101; PacLink Communications Internat., Inc. v. Superior Court (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 958, 963; Grosset v. Wenaas (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1100, 1108.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Some states and some courts are a little more liberal about this than others. There are times when judges allow personal representatives to appear without representation and the same is true with trustees, in Michigan. But this is a gray area and it always depends on the matter before the judge and the judge in question.
Attorney Chen has provided you with authority for this issue in California. It sounds like representation is going to be required.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.
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