In a Will Contest the local Court has probated a Will which is a public document. In contrast, Trusts are private. You may have a difficult time obtaining a copy. If you receive a special notice of the Trust as specified by statute, you may have only ninety (90) days to file a Trust Contest, even if you do not know who inherits what. This is a very short time frame in which to hire an attorney and file the necessary paperwork with the Court.
Just like a Will, the most common reason to challenge a Trust or Trust Amendment is the decedent did not appear to be of sound mind to sign any legal document. Perhaps he or she could not remember the names of family members, or could not understand the nature and extent of his or her property. Memory problems, confusion, disorientation, repeating themselves, not following along in conversations, or a medical problem such as dementia are common signs.
Unlike a Will, there are very few formal requirements to have a valid Trust. Because Trusts are so private, there is a greater possibility of undue influence. Perhaps one of the beneficiaries arranged for the attorney, or was involved in drafting the disputed document. Once a Trust or new Trust Amendment is signed, the “undue influencer” often isolates the decedent and prevents others from meeting or talking with a loved one.
You may also have questions about certain trust language. There can be confusion about the rightful beneficiaries, who should receive the income, or who should receive the principal. There can be conflict because income beneficiaries want more now, and remainder beneficiaries want more left for later. Beneficiaries may want to remove or replace a Trustee because the fees are too high, or the Trust has lost a great deal of value. Fiduciaries charged with taking care of the money of others far too often treat the Trust as their own piggy bank.
Sometimes words or phrases are confusing, and the Court is required to interpret the language. You may wish to petition the Court to change or reform a Trust. If a document does not reflect the actual intention of the creator of the trust, you might be able to have it modified.
For vigorous and effective representation in any Trust dispute, or if have a question, contact Mr. Shirley. He has the knowledge and skill to represent clients in court, at the negotiating table, and in mediation over any disputed Trust matter. He has the experience to investigate and obtain more information, discuss all of your options with you, and recommend how you can better decide what to do. It is important for you to know the best and worst possible outcomes, the fees and expenses of moving forward, and the risks involved.