Who may have legal standing to contest a trust?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | blog, Trust Contests

You and fellow family members may anticipate receiving assets from a trust created by an elder family member. As such, you want the trustee to manage the trust appropriately for your benefit. This does not always happen though, or there may be other defects with the trust.

You probably know that people can contest a will in court, but are not sure about suing for control of a trust. It is possible to contest a trust but to do so, you should have legal standing.

Beneficiaries to the trust

If a trust names you to receive money or property, you clearly have an interest in how a trustee administers the trust. Therefore, you may litigate if you have a problem with the asset division. You might also believe the person who created the trust lacked proper mental capacity when arranging the trust. This could give you grounds to contest the trust due to undue influence.

Excluded beneficiaries

As AARP points out, only 34% of Americans even make an estate plan, but those who do should be careful of errors such as beneficiary mistakes and conflicts. In some cases, individuals who have a relative who failed to name them as heirs end up contesting the will on the basis of their exclusion.

Likewise, would-be beneficiaries might lodge a legal complaint that they should receive from the trust based on their relationship with the trust creator. The exclusion may be a mistake or deliberate, or it could be due to coercion from another party.

Successor trustees

Sometimes there is an individual in line to take over trust management upon the resignation of the original trustee or if the first trustee cannot serve. A successor trustee can contest the trust on the basis of issues including improper trust funding or management by the existing trustee that could impact their future duties.

Simply feeling dissatisfied with the trust usually does not justify legal action. There must be legitimate grounds like trustee misconduct, claims of forgery or valid doubts about the mental capacity of the trust creator. Due to the difficulty and expenses involved, individuals should weigh whether the potential benefits make bringing a contest worth pursuing.


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