When you challenge the validity of a trust, you go through a process referred to as contesting a trust. The laws concerning this process vary from state to state, so it’s essential to reach out to an attorney experienced in trusts and estate law in your area.
Heban, Murphree, and Lewandowski have decades of experience in contesting trusts in Ohio and will take the time to answer any questions you have about the process. We can handle all sides of the probate dispute in the best interest of our clients. Whether you’re challenging a will or trust due to incompetence, fraud, or undue influence, we can help. Read on to learn more about trusts, the contesting process, and how we can benefit you.
The first step to contesting a trust is filing a complaint in probate court. The probate process is a legal mechanism that allows the estate to be established and any challenges to be filed. Next comes acquiring medical records, the file of the attorney who drew the trust, and writing questions to all parties involved. Finally, depositions are conducted on persons with information.
During this process, we aim to find out if a trust is valid. There are several reasons that a will or trust can be considered invalid. For example, if a trust fails to conform to state law, it can be regarded as invalid. As a result, it is essential to update your will and trust when you move to a new state.
A trust is also frequently challenged due to a lack of testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity means that the owner of a will or trust (the testator) must understand the will and trust when drafted and have full mental faculties. The testator must be aware of the nature and extent of property and belongings owned, which constitute their estate. They must also be of sound mind when they establish trust and have the mental faculties to know who is being written into their will.
Undue influence often goes hand in hand with a lack of testamentary capacity. Suppose a beneficiary influences the testator to increase their claim on an inheritance or reduce another beneficiary claim. In that case, this may fall under undue influence and allow for a contested will and trust. This individual may be a family member, friend, or caretaker of an elderly testator. If it can be proven that influence was attempted, the testator was vulnerable, and the outcome is affected. The offending beneficiary may be held ineligible to benefit from the trust.
The trustee is required to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries at all times. As a result, naming a beneficiary as a trustee can complicate matters and create a conflict. Because being a trustee involves legal and financial decisions, an individual needs to be trustworthy and benefit by being educated in finance or law. As a result, it’s not always best to name a friend or a family member as a trustee. Even innocent mistakes can result in delayed inheritances or trust contests. A trust may be contested regarding a trustee if there is suspected self-dealing by the trustee, breach of fiduciary duty, or theft of assets from the estate.
A trust is generally changed more frequently than a will. As a result, it may take more work to follow all of the trust documents to determine the owner’s intent. A trust often evolves significantly over its life and is amended time and time again. Because several uncommon procedural rules apply, few attorneys in Ohio oversee trust contests, so finding a trusted firm experience in drawing and contesting trusts is imperative. A lawsuit to challenge a trust ensures that the deceased has their intentions honored via the trust.
If you have questions about contesting a trust or will or need help to support your side of a dispute, contact Heban, Murphree, and Lewandowski LLC today.