If you suspect that someone has manipulated your loved one’s will or trust, you may need to take legal action. Unfortunately, contesting a trust is difficult without the help of an experienced Pasadena trust litigation lawyer. Your lawyer can discuss the legal options available and help determine if contesting a trust is the right decision for you.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is a legal document that allows a trustee (a neutral third party) to hold assets for a beneficiary or beneficiaries. The trustee owes the beneficiaries certain legal duties. They must protect the trust assets and distribute them according to the wishes of the deceased.
One of the benefits of a trust is that trusts usually avoid probate, and beneficiaries can access assets quicker. Some types of trusts also incur fewer taxes since they are not considered part of the taxable estate.
Individuals often choose a trust instead of a standard will because it offers more control over their wealth. A trust can control who will receive distributions and when those beneficiaries can receive those distributions. It also allows assets to remain private and out of the probate courts.
How to Contest a Trust
Sometimes beneficiaries may have disputes over the trust, making it necessary to contest the validity of a trust.
Some trusts contain a “no contest clause.” Under a no contest clause, if a beneficiary contests a trust, they must do so with “probable cause” although each no contest provision may be worded differently. If the person who challenges or contests the validity of a trust loses the lawsuit, and the judge believes that the suit was not brought with “probable cause,” then the beneficiary could potentially forfeit some or all of their inheritance under the trust.
As such, it is important to understand how to contest a trust and when it is within your power to do so. There are numerous reasons a beneficiary might have probable cause to contest a trust, including, but not limited to:
- Lack of capacity – A person must be of sound mind and body for a trust to be valid
- Undue influence by another – A person must not have been unduly influenced by another person, either by persuasion, threats, or force. Even taking advantage of another’s weakness or their distress could be a form of undue influence.
- Fraud – This could occur if someone signs a trust without knowing what it is.
- Existence of a more recent trust – Evidence of a more recent or updated trust could invalidate the current trust.
- Trust was not executed properly under applicable state law – For example, in California a trust must be notarized. A Will (also commonly referred to a Last Will and Testament) must be witnessed by two (2) witnesses.
Contact our Pasadena Trust Litigation Lawyers Today
If you are considering contesting a trust or will, or if you have questions concerning any type of trust or probate litigation matter, we can help. At the Aslanian Law Firm, our Pasadena trust litigation lawyer has years of experience representing Californians in complex litigation cases. You can learn more about contesting a trust by calling us at (626) 345-7210 or by filling out our confidential contact form.