Trusts can be contested for several of the same reasons as wills. While it may prove to be challenging, our Florida estate litigation team outlines some methods of how a trust can be contested below.
Reasons to Contest a Trust
Lack of Testamentary Capacity
The considerations for determining whether a testator had the sufficient mental capacity to establish a valid trust are typically similar to that required to create a valid will. To have “capacity”, the settlor must have been at least 18 years old and have had the ability to know the extent of his or her property and the natural objects of his or her bounty. The “natural objects” include family members such as spouses, children, and siblings.
One of the most efficient ways of proving lack of mental capacity is by examining relevant medical records near the time the trust document was signed. Although these documents may not directly reflect the mental capacity of the settlor, the simple fact they exist may become relevant if they were created near the time the trust was signed.
Wrongful Execution of the Trust
A trust may become invalid if the trustor executes the trust with the belief they are executing something else. This is referred to as “insane delusion”, which interferes with the testator’s ability to rationally establish a trust. The contester of the trust must prove the trustor insistently believed “facts” that have no basis in reality, having an impact on the trustor’s disposition on the property within the trust.
A trust or a portion of the trust may be stricken if the court finds it was the result of undue influence. This occurs when the trustor is influenced to make a decision about the trust in order to benefit another individual. Undue influence is most commonly proven through circumstantial evidence. Simply pointing out motive and opportunity are insufficient to prove undue influence. The contester typically must show that another person exerted their will on a vulnerable trustor, and the influence concluded in a trust provision expressing the intent of the influencer rather than that of the testator.
A trust can be invalidated if it has any unlawful purpose or purpose that is contradictory to public policy, as stated under the Uniform Trust Code (UTC). Examples of this include the imposed limits on the freedom to marry or freedom of religion.
Contact Our Florida Guardianship Team Today
The best way to ensure your trust is not prone to lengthy litigation is by consulting the skilled estate planning team at Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A.. Litigation matters are extremely complex, requiring specialized knowledge, and our seasoned team of attorneys has the experience you need to find success.
To schedule a free consultation with our team, do not hesitate to contact us today through our website or give us a call at (800) 776-3103!