When you pass away, there is a potential that your loved ones will have to go through some kind of estate litigation. While you may have set up trusts in the way you saw fit, if they don’t think the terms are fair, then one or more of your heirs may contest your decisions.
What are the main causes of litigation over trusts?
The three main reasons that people contest a trust include undue influence and coercion, forgery or fraud and the lack of mental capacity on the grantor’s part. Here’s what each of those mean:
An undue influence contest might happen if your loved ones believe that you were coerced into making decisions that you wouldn’t have made otherwise. For example, if you had a new caretaker who you left assets to, your children might dispute that decision.
Forgery and/or fraud
Forgery and fraud is the next major issue that might come up. If your signature doesn’t look right, a will was changed suddenly when it was unlikely that you could change it or you were given paperwork to sign not knowing that it was related to your trust, then your family could contest the trust’s distribution.
Lack of capacity
Finally, there is the question of capacity. If you develop Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other medical conditions that make it hard for you to have good cognition, then changes to a will or trust could be contested.
To help avoid trust disputes, it’s a good idea to include updated medical documents showing you have the capacity to make decisions with each change. You should also have witnesses there who don’t have anything to gain from your legal documents, so they can attest that you signed willingly. Your attorney can help you guarantee that your trust is set up correctly.