While establishing a trust for your loved ones is often a wise choice, a number of pitfalls can make the experience more stressful than it has to be. Financial matters—and, in the case of a trust that goes into effect after the death of the grantor, grief—can make an already delicate situation even more challenging. While nobody wants to plan for the worst-case scenario, doing so can ensure your wishes are carried out, and your trust remains unchallenged. In addition to being very clear about your trust terms and working with an estate planning attorney to ensure procedural compliance, trusts can also incorporate a no-contest clause that removes a challenging beneficiary’s right to the trust if they challenge the trust and fail.
Reasons to Challenge a Trust
A trust can generally be contested in the same way that a will can. These include a wide range of reasons that can vary based on your own personal circumstances. For example, someone challenging a trust may claim that the person who formed the trust lacked the capacity to do so or did so under duress or undue influence. There are also certain procedural requirements a person must meet when establishing a trust, and a challenger can attack on those grounds if any steps are missed, or any T’s are uncrossed or I’s undotted. Specific terms of the trust can also be challenged if ambiguous or unclear or somehow against reasonable public policy. Alternatively, beneficiaries can sue the trustee directly if the trustee acts outside of the bounds or spirit of the trust.