A trust, or living trust as it is legally called, is drafted in place of making of a will. It names a decedent’s beneficiaries and the trust’s assets that they should receive. The terms of a trust, irrespective of whether it is irrevocable or revocable, are liable to legal contests if there is any cause to doubt their validity. There are different steps involved when filing a lawsuit to challenge a trust.
Start by hiring an estate litigation lawyer from a BC-based firm to advise and represent you in the lawsuit. Some disadvantaged trust beneficiaries choose to go it alone, but they eventually realize that contesting a trust is not as easy as filing documents in a probate court and attending hearings. One of the critical elements that a lawyer will help you establish is whether or not you have sufficient grounds to contest the trust.
The following are the legal bases for the contesting of a living trust.
The Trust Is Not Signed as per a State’s Law
All states have specific rules regarding what makes a trust legally valid. In most states, the signing of trusts that are not entirely written in a maker’s handwriting should be witnessed by two people who meet specific set requirements. If this requirement is not met, then the trust can be considered legally invalid. Most states also consider trusts with ambiguous and unclear language defective.
Lack of the Capacity to Make a Trust
The capacity to draft a trust means that the testator understands his family relationships, the legal effects of the trust and his assets. States have different legal requirements on the minimum threshold for proving that someone has the capacity to draft a trust. In most cases, these are the same requirements as those needed to make a legally valid contract.
Undue Influence on the Trust’s Maker
Most of the time, undue influence is exerted on older individuals who have a limited physical or mental capacity. People across all ages are, however, vulnerable to being influenced on how to distribute their estate. In the perspective of a trust’s contest, undue influence encompasses more than verbal threats and nagging. The pressure, in this case, should have been so extreme that it caused the testator to favor the influencer or disfavor another beneficiary.
Fraud in the Trust’s Procurement
There are times that a testator signs a trust’s terms thinking he is signing another document. This means the trust was procured through fraud. If you can prove this was the case in your trust’s procurement, then it can be invalidated.
Accumulating assets irrespective of their monetary value takes a significant commitment and sacrifice on a decedent’s part. You should ensure your loved one’s efforts do not go to waste because of the tampering of their trust. With the above grounds and a competent lawyer, you have good chances of getting recourse for questionable terms in a trust. In most states, this means the courts will distribute the trust’s property according to their intestate succession laws instead of the trust’s terms.