A trust can be an essential tool in an estate plan. When a person (called the grantor) creates a trust and funds it with their assets, they establish a legal entity that owns the assets. The appointed trustee has a fiduciary duty to hold and manage those assets for the benefit of named beneficiaries. Establishing trusts to manage assets can potentially keep assets safe from creditors and help beneficiaries gain access to the assets after the grantor’s death without having to go through probate.
However, there are instances when beneficiaries or heirs can dispute a trust’s validity or challenge the trustee’s actions. If you believe you have grounds to contest a trust in Arizona, an estate litigation attorney from Pennington Law, PLLC can review your case and discuss your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Why Trusts Are Contested
Why do people contest trusts? Often it comes down to family members feeling a trust is unfair or does not equitably distribute assets. When family members or beneficiaries disagree with the terms of the trust, they may wish to contest the document in court, seeking what they consider to be their fair share of the deceased person’s estate.
Typically, only those with legal standing can contest a trust. That means only a party with a financial stake in the trust can challenge it.
Common Reasons for Contesting a Trust
Before contesting a loved one’s trust, you must ensure you have legal standing. You must also consider whether your case meets the grounds for pursuing a trust contest. Some of the most common reasons for contesting a trust include:
- Lack of capacity – To create a valid trust, the grantor must have the mental capacity to understand their actions and what the document entails. When an individual drafts a legal document but lacks the mental capacity and awareness to understand its implications, you can challenge the trust’s validity.
- Undue influence – Did someone else exercise excessive control or persuasion over the creation of the trust or convince the grantor to make drastic or excessive changes? In those cases, an individual could contest the trust by citing undue influence.
- Fraud, forgery, or defects in the documents – Deceit, fraudulent signatures, ambiguous language, and legal deficiencies in the drafting of a trust can also call the trust’s validity into question.
If you wish to contest a trust, an Arizona estate litigation lawyer can file a petition in civil court for you.
Steps to Take If You Believe a Trust Should Be Contested
If you have concerns about the validity of a family member’s trust, your first step should be to contact an estate litigation lawyer. Challenging a trust can be more complicated than contesting a will, and certain clauses in trusts may penalize you for taking legal action. With help from the right attorney, you can make a decision that fits your unique situation.
Contact an Estate Litigation Lawyer at Pennington Law, PLLC
Grief has no time limit. However, trust contests must be handled as soon as possible if you want to protect yourself and your inheritance. If you are worried about the validity of a loved one’s trust, contact Pennington Law, PLLC. Our skilled team of Arizona estate lawyers wants to help you find closure while looking out for your interests.
Contact our Arizona office today for a free consultation.