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How to Contest a Trust

Dec 28, 2018 - Trusts by

A trust is legal tool commonly used to determine how a person’s assets will be distributed when he or she dies. Unlike a will, a trust transfers the person’s assets before death. That means the assets can be distributed after death without first going through the often cumbersome probate process.

Like a will, there are a number of grounds on which a person can contest the validity of trust. That usually means filing a lawsuit against the trustee who administered the estate, those who obtained assets from the trust and anyone involved in the creation of the trust. If you’re considering challenging a trust in South Florida, it’s important to seek the advice of an experienced Miami trust dispute attorney to consider your rights and options.

Grounds for Challenging a Trust

There are a number of bases on which a person can challenge a trust. Those arguments often focus on the circumstances surrounding the initial creation of the trust and transfer of assets into the trust.

Legal Capacity: Florida law makes clear that a person can create a trust if he or she generally understands the practical impact of the move, including the property to be transferred into the trust and the people situated to benefit from using a trust instead of a will. A person who is mentally incapacitated, intoxicated or otherwise unable to understand the consequences doesn’t have the legal authority to create a trust.  

Undue Influence: A trust that’s procured by undue influence is considered void in Florida. Undue influence can come in many shapes and sizes, but it generally refers to situations in which a person with a confidential relationship with the person signing the trust—the “grantor” —actively works to procure the trust. It can be proved in a number of ways, including by showing that the influencer was present when the trust was signed or the grantor expressed interest in creating a trust, the influencer helped procure witnesses for the trust signing, and/or the influencer was responsible for safekeeping the trust agreement after it was signed.

Fraud, Mistake, Revocation: Fraud contests come into play in situations where a person lied or otherwise used misinformation to prod the grantor into signing the trust. Trusts can in some cases also be challenged on the ground that the grantor made a mistake in writing out the trust itself. On other cases, a person challenging a trust can try to prove that the grantor actually revoked the trust agreement after it was signed and before the grantor died.

Contact a Miami Probate Lawyer at Hoffman & Hoffman P.A. Today

Hoffman & Hoffman is a South Florida estate planning law firm whose attorneys help people manage their assets and decide how property will be distributed in the event of their death. We are pleased to represent clients throughout South Florida, including in Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Coconut Grove. Contact us to speak with an attorney today.