Can I Contest A Trust?
One of your parents died and had a trust. The trust seems suspicious, though, as it favors a long-lost relative instead of you and your siblings. What can you do? Should you just accept the trust as is and move forward or can you contest it somehow?
You might be able to. Your ability to contest a trust will depend on your legal standing. Not just anyone can contest a trust. You must either be a beneficiary or heir-at-law who was disinherited by the trust. You must also have a valid reason to contest the trust. Simply being dissatisfied with how the assets are distributed, the choice of trustee, or the selection of beneficiaries would not be enough.
Why Would You Contest a Trust?
There are a few valid reasons why you would contest a trust. They include:
- You believe the owner of the trust was coerced into creating or revising the trust.
- You believe the owner of the trust lacked the mental capacity to create a trust.
- You believe the owner of the trust was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when signing the trust.
- You believe the owner of the trust was suffering from mental illness or dementia when signing the trust.
- The person who helped set up the trust benefits from it.
- You are pretty sure that fraud is involved in some way.
- The trust document was forged.
- There are multiple trusts involved and all have contradictory terms.
- The trustee did not distribute assets as required.
- The trustee is wasting trust funds.
What to Consider
Contesting a trust is not cheap. The exact amount will depend on the complexity of the case. It could range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $100,000 or more, depending on the amount of assets involved.
Because of the costs involved, you need to consider what you stand to gain by contesting the trust and determine if the pros outweigh the cons. For example, If you expect to receive several million dollars in assets from the trust by contesting it, then paying attorney’s fees may be well worth it.
Your success in contesting a trust will depend on what’s being contested, your legal grounds for bringing a claim, and the experience and knowledge of your attorney. You will have to prove your case and that could be difficult, depending on what’s being challenged.
In any case, the court makes the final decision. The decision will depend on state laws and the amount of evidence you have in your favor.
Seek Legal Help
Just because a trust is a legal document does not mean it is true and accurate. Sometimes trusts are created under duress or incapacitation and may be invalid.
There are no guarantees when contesting a trust, but Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can assist you with the process. Schedule a consultation to learn more. Fill out the online form or call 954-764-4330.