Contesting a Trust
Oftentimes, someone will create a living trust (either revocable or irrevocable), instead of or in addition to a last will and testament (will) as part of the estate planning process. The trust will name beneficiaries of all assets, similar to a will. Any person that has a vested interest in the outcome of a trust, and believes that the living trust is invalid because it somehow violates state law can bring a challenge in court. Contesting a trust requires an individual to actually file a lawsuit in the court that has jurisdiction over that trust. Several legal documents are required to file a lawsuit correctly, and to establish a legal basis upon which a trust can be contested. Contacting an experienced estate and trust litigation attorney can help you understand how you can proceed with contesting a trust. The following are some of the foundations upon which a trust can be contested legally in probate court.
The person who created the trust must be mentally competent at the time of the creation of the trust document. If the grantor (the person creating the trust) was in any way determined to be suffering from a mental illness, the trust could be considered contestable in court. To attempt to contest a trust in court for the cause of incompetence, it is likely that the court will need either testimony of witnesses or medical professionals regarding the mental state of the grantor.
As well as being mentally competent, a grantor must also never be under any kind of pressure or undue influence from any other party regarding his/her decisions. If the grantor was being pressured to alter their trust, or change their trust in any way to the benefit of someone against their true wishes, the trust could be considered contestable in court. Again, this will require the testimony of witnesses regarding how there was actual undue influence upon the grantor.
A person who has standing to bring a lawsuit in court arguing the validity of a trust could also bring the suit on grounds that the trust document itself is defective. This argument rests upon the fact that the trust document does not satisfy or meet requirements established by the state of Maryland. For example, if a trust does not have the correct number of signatures, the language is unclear, or if there is a doubt as to whether the signature is truly the grantor’s, the court may invalidate a living trust. The burden is always on the person bringing the lawsuit to prove that there was a documentary defect within the trust document, and provide evidence to substantiate that claim.
Reach Out to an Attorney for Help
If you are considering contesting a trust, contacting an experienced attorney can help you understand if you have a valid claim and legal standing. If you believe you have the right to contest a trust, you have the right to receive strong representation in the litigation process. Contact our experienced Prince Frederick estate & trust litigation attorneys serving southern Maryland at Meng Law at 410-535-5500 or online today.