Who can contest a trust?

The death of a loved one can be a challenging time. There are a lot of emotions involved, with different friends and family members coping in different ways. But this can be particularly true if anyone has questions about the decedent’s wishes or intent.

Trusts are supposed to help surviving loved ones navigate this tough road. Sometimes, however, questions about the trust can make things more complex. So who can actually challenge the validity of a trust? And on what grounds?

How a will contest might start

Not just anybody can contest a trust. Under the law, an individual must have legal standing in order to do so. Who has legal standing? Generally speaking, it’s any interested party that will be directly affected by the outcome of the proceedings. (This is a simplified explanation, however.)

When an interested party files a trust contest, it is usually because they have concerns – not necessarily about what they might or might not get, but potentially over how the trust was created. Common types of claims in trust contest cases include:

  • The trust wasn’t legally signed
  • Someone exerted undue influence on the trust’s creator
  • The trust was procured via fraud
  • The person that made the trust didn’t have the mental capacity to do so

These types of issues may leave a trust legally invalid.

Resolving the case

Trust contests can quickly become complicated, particularly if there are outside parties (such as a nonprofit expecting a gift) involved. Generally, the faster these cases can be resolved, the better. Once all questions are answered and the potential issues cleared up, everyone impacted can get back to their normal life.

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