A trust, unlike a will, is far more involved and can control the behavior of heirs for years to come. A trust acts somewhat like a contract between the person making it (called the “trustor” or “settlor”) and the person who agrees to manage the trust (called the “trustee”). These complex contractual documents put a person’s assets in the hands of the trustee to be managed for the benefit of others (called “beneficiaries”), usually the trustor’s heirs. Trusts are a terrific way to establish a private, yet functional mechanism for leaving your estate to others. Naturally, things can still go wrong. If you need help, call an experienced trust dispute attorney in Birmingham, and get help today.
Much like wills, trusts must be witnessed and signed by the person making them. There are several types of trusts that people can use, depending on the purpose and their needs. For instance, here are just a few general types of trusts:
The type of trust often determines the options one has for attempting to break or invalidate a trust when something goes wrong.
There can be a lot of reasons why someone would feel the need to contest a trust, but it can be hard to do. This is because the law favors the privacy of trusts. They are created so as to avoid the public nature of probate. So, when you ask a court to invalidate a trust, you are taking an otherwise private arrangement and making it public. Aside from errors in technical formalities, you may be able to dispute a trust for the following reasons:
A trustor must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of the act of creating a trust. In general, this is a slightly higher standard than the capacity required for a will. This is because the law considers a trust to be more akin to a contract, which is a higher level act.
If someone acted aggressively, coerced the decedent, or exerted strong pressure to overcome their free will in creating the trust, then the trust does not truly represent the trustor’s intent.
Overly friendly and helpful heirs, neighbors, caregivers, and even unscrupulous strangers may try to defraud the estate by destroying a trust document, altering it, or making unwarranted changes. This might amount to fraud.
Any evidence of forgery should be addressed, as it may mean an invalid trust.
Because a trustor gives a trustee the right to control and manage the trust, it creates a fiduciary relationship, in which the trustee is legally required to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Sometimes, however, a trustee may overreach or act in a manner that is contrary to their role. This may require the removal of a trustee. Likewise, a trustee may feel that an heir has violated a term of the trust but fear that withholding money from that beneficiary could spell trouble. These types of ongoing conflicts between trustees and beneficiaries often require the skilled assistance of attorneys to make sure things go smoothly.