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Trusts are invaluable estate planning tools, as they allow individuals to pass on their estates without the hassle, cost or publicity that comes with traditional wills and the probate process. Because of this, they are becoming increasingly popular estate planning instruments. A rise in the use of trusts, however, also means a rise in trust disputes.
Like with will contents, trust contests can quickly become complex and emotionally heated. An experienced and objective litigator can help you see past your emotions and work toward the most efficient and satisfactory resolution possible. When possible, we strive to help beneficiaries resolve their differences through effective and respectful communication. However, when necessary, we are ready to put our nearly two decades of litigation experience to work for you.
Trust disputes can arise for many of the same reasons that will contests arise — a beneficiary is dissatisfied with his or her inheritance, a loved one believes the testator created or altered the will under undue influence, a family member suspects that the trustee committed an abuse of power … At Walk-In Wills, we have the experience and knowledge necessary to handle your trust dispute, regardless of the reason it arises. Two types of issues we commonly take to court are as follows:
Contesting a trust is much more difficult than contesting a will, which is a difficult process in and of itself. For one, a trust does not go through probate, which is a process in which the terms of the will are made public for all — beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries alike — to hear. Because it does not go through probate, many people who might otherwise contest the terms of the trust may not even know about its existence.
Second, many trusts contain “No contest” clauses. Though these clauses do not prevent people from filing trust dispute lawsuits, they do act as deterrents. This is because if a beneficiary were to file a no-contest clause, he or she would lose all stake in the inheritance, even if the contest were successful.
Finally, the grounds for contesting a trust are often difficult to prove. Proving fraud, undue influence, lack of capacity or failure to faithfully manage assets requires extensive and foolproof evidence that leaves no room for interpretation. Without such evidence, you may lose out on your inheritance for no real reason.
Litigating a trust is often a lengthy, complex and costly process. For these reasons, and for the fact that you want to ensure your loved one’s wishes are respected, you should not attempt to dispute a trust on your own. At Walk-In Wills, we have the knowledge and resources to advise you on your rights and options, and to help you take the steps necessary to obtain the best possible outcome.