Contesting the terms of a trust can be a long and difficult process. Depending on your situation, you may be wondering what the cost of challenging a trust might be, and whether it is worth the time, money, and effort. The person challenging a trust must take the first step of bringing the matter to court or by filing a petition out. The trust usually has to be contested within the first 120 days after a beneficiary is given notice by the trustee. Filing a lawsuit can be a lengthy process and should not be taken without advice from a qualified attorney.
In order to properly challenge a trust the challenger will need to have legal standing. This is not a term that is easily achieved as it is a legal term of art. Your attorney can work with you to properly establish a claim and achieve legal standing. The probate court will then require the plaintiff to file certain documents to outline all legal arguments in contesting the trust. One such legal argument would be that the trust grantor be mentally competent and not under any undue influence. If you have reason to suspect that the grantor is under any undue influence, then you may have a solid claim.
While court filing fees and the money required to hiring an attorney may seem like the only costs, there are several other costs to consider when challenging a trust. If the beneficiaries are friends or especially family, you have to understand the long-term impacts on your relationships with them once the lawsuit is over. It is important to consider this emotional impact before moving forward in the process, as it can be more burdensome than the monetary burden at times.
Aside from the emotional and monetary cost of challenging a trust, it is important to understand the amount of time required. Lawsuits can typically drag out for months at a time and that will only add to both of the other costs as well as eat into your personal life and free time. It is important to understand that an attorney can help drastically cut down on the amount of time that you will need to dedicate to the challenge. Your attorney is familiar with the legal process and knows exactly what questions to ask you in order to get the most pertinent details and information for establishing a solid case.
The cost of challenging a trust is determinate on your particular situation. You should always use a cost-benefit analysis to understand if what you stand to gain from the challenge is worth total of the monetary, emotional, and time cost of the entire process.
No matter the case, an attorney can help you make sure the challenge is a success and that you don’t waste any time. They are experienced and are used to contesting trusts while you are likely doing it for the first time. Their experience is invaluable and can make the difference between a lengthy and expensive process, or one that causes as little friction as possible in your daily life.