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What If We Want to Challenge a Trust?

A trust is a powerful legal tool that separate possession and ownership. A trust creator will work with a California estate planning lawyer to make a irrevocable trust or to create a revocable living trust. The trust creator will make a trust document that provides instructions for the trust, including naming a beneficiary, naming a trustee and naming a backup trustee. A testamentary trust can also be created as a part of a last will and testament.  When the trust is created, it must be funded by the transfer of assets to the trust so the trust becomes its new owner.

Trusts can do many different things, including allowing assets to pass outside the probate process and giving the trust creator more control over when and how trust assets are managed and transferred to new owners.  Like a last will and testament, however, there are specific requirements for trust creation. If a trust is created but someone wishes to challenge its validity, it is possible to do so just as it is possible to contest a will. When the validity of a trust is challenged, it is called a trust contest.  The Evans Law Firm has provided representation to many clients involved in a trust contest and our legal team knows the ins-and-outs of these types of complicated situations.

How Does a Trust Contest Work?

A trust should not be challenged unless you believe you can successfully prove that there is a problem with the trust that should make it invalid. This could occur if the trust creator, or settlor as he or she is called, acted under duress. A settlor could act under duress if he was forced or coerced into creating the trust.

A trust could also be challenged in circumstances where you believe the trust settlor was not of sound mind and was no longer competent during the trust creation process.  Just like with a last will and testament, only a person who is sane, who has an understanding of his actions, and who is acting under his own free will is able to create a legally valid trust.

You can also challenge a trust in circumstances where a person who will benefit from the trust was instrumental in setting it up. For example, if a caregiver helps a trust creator to set up the trust that provides a substantial financial benefit to the caregiver, this is an example of a situation where the validity of the trust could be challenged.

Challenging a trust, or contesting a trust as it is called, can sometimes be more difficult than contesting a will due to the nature of trusts. There are often many steps, like creating the trust document and funding the trust, that the trust creator must take. The trust creator may also be involved with the trust for many years, such as when the trust creator makes a living trust and acts as the primary trustee. As a result, it can be harder to argue that the trust creator didn’t really want to make the trust and was coerced into it.

If you challenge a trust and are unsuccessful, it is possible you could lose your right to receive trust property, so talk with an experienced attorney before you decide that you wish to contest a trust.

The Evans Law Firm, Inc. can provide help in taking the appropriate legal steps to challenge a trust and can make the strongest possible arguments on your behalf in situations where you believe a trust was not valid. We can also represent trustees and trust administrators who are defending the validity of a trust. To find out more about how we can help, give contact us today.

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