Will & Trust Contests
What Is a Will or Trust Contest?
A will contest is a formal objection raised against the validity of a will which argues that the document does not reflect the actual intent of the person who made it. Similarly, a trust contest is a formal objection raised against the validity of a trust, which argues that the existing document does not accurately reflect the intent of the settler (person who made the trust). Typically, two classes of persons are eligible to contest the validity of a will or trust:
- Those who are named in the will or trust (i.e. any beneficiary);
- Those who would inherit from the person making the will or trust if the document was held invalid.
The grounds to contest a will or trust include, but are not limited to, evidence of:
- Lack of capacity
- Undue influence, duress or menace.
Things to Consider Before Challenging a Will or Trust
It is possible to add a “no contest” clause to a will or trust which forfeits the right of any person who contests to receive anything. However, because this clause is within the trust, if a challenge is successful the clause will become meaningless. But if, on the other hand, a person falls short in his or her challenge, then the challenger could lose the benefits that were given under the trust or the will.
Before contesting a will or trust, it is important to know that courts do not necessarily look to “fairness” during will or trust contests. The creator of the will or trust has a legal right to dispose of his or her assets in any way that is legal, so “unfair” does not factor into a document’s legal validity. In addition, challengers should know that the large number of will and trust contests each year make judges cautious about reviewing any such cases. This is particularly true when the document in question involves the willing of assets to charitable organizations.
How Our Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help You
At times when litigation concerning a will or trust is unavoidable, our legal team can represent your interests. At Baker, Burton & Lundy, our attorneys take the time to explain the litigation process in the simplest possible terms, lay out your options and help you make a decision based on the potential risks and rewards of pursuing litigation.
The extensive litigation experience and quality reputation of Brad N. Baker and Albro Lundy III will give you peace of mind because you know that the other side will need to take you seriously. The ability to be successful at trial is the foundation upon which reasonable compromises can be based. We take pride in bringing common sense to the emotionally charged arena of contests. No one wants the attorneys to be the only winners.
We have a measuring stick here at Baker, Burton & Lundy: If we do not feel we can add substantially more value to your position then you are probably going to pay us, we will not take your case. We are pleased to say that our clients have been helped substantially more than we have benefited. We look forward to helping people in their time of need, and we thank you for considering us.
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To learn more about how Baker, Burton & Lundy’s experienced attorneys can represent or advise you, please call (310) 376-9893 or fill out the form below.