A trust helps ensure that your property is protected and will be distributed to the correct beneficiaries. But what happens if the validity of that trust is in question? How can you resolve the matter? The Nashville trust dispute lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC are dedicated to ensuring the trust in question is disputed, rather than being executed. We understand this is a difficult situation and will do all we can to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
What You Need to Know About Trust Disputes in TN
Let’s say you doubt the validity of a loved one’s trust. How do you know if you have a claim? It’s important to know when it is the right situation to dispute a trust. Some common reasons include:
The trust was not constructed properly. For example, the proper amount of witness signatures is not on the document.
The grantor lacked the necessary mental capacity to create the will and did not understand what he/she was creating.
The trust was procured by fraud. For example, someone signed the trust believing it was another document.
If any of these situations are true, then only a person who has legal standing can file the claim (i.e., someone who will be affected by the outcome of the lawsuit). This means one of the following can dispute a trust:
Disinherited or disadvantaged heirs at law: Family members who would either inherit or inherit more under state law if the trust is made invalid.
Disinherited or disadvantaged beneficiaries: Beneficiaries, which can be a family member, a close friend, or even a charity, named or given a larger amount in a prior trust.
The probate court will decide whether the trust is valid. If it is found invalid, the trust will be thrown out.
No-Contest Clauses in Trusts
Before considering challenging a trust in Tennessee, you need to know if there is an ‘in terrorem’ clause. Also known as a no-contest or forfeiture clause, an in terrorem clause keeps beneficiaries from contesting the trust. If someone does try to contest the trust, that individual runs the risk of disinheriting or reducing their shares.
However, there are times when challenging a trust is necessary. Under the Tennessee Uniform Trust Act, a challenge can be made as long as the individual has “probable cause and reasonable justification.” This means the contestant needs to have a reasonable ground or justification to bring the action. This can be quite difficult to prove unless you have the right estate litigation attorney by your side.
Our Trust Dispute Lawyers are Ready to Help
For decades, the estate lawyers of Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC have helped people across Middle Tennessee prepare a trust. We help our clients select the best person to administer the trust and step in as trustees when necessary. Our trust litigation attorneys know the complex issues surrounding building a secure trust and will do everything we can to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Contact our Nashville probate litigation law firm now for more information if you need legal assistance in contesting a trust or resolving any other trust and estate planning matters.