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Trust Contests

New York City Lawyer Handling Estate Litigation

After the grantor or person who creates the trust dies, disputes may arise in connection with the trust. Sometimes these disputes concern trust provisions. In other cases, the failure to name a particular beneficiary may spark a conflict. Trust contests are the process for resolving disputes involving trusts. If you are seeking to bring a trust contest to challenge the provisions of a trust or defend a trust from accusations of undue influence, contact New York City estate litigation attorney Jules Haas for a consultation.

Trust Contests

Trust contests are formal objections to the validity of some aspect of a trust. The law regarding these procedures in New York is ever shifting with the circumstances dictating the standards that will be followed. Trust contests may be brought in Surrogate’s Court or the Supreme Court.

A party seeking to set aside a trust bears the burden of proof on all issues. This differs from will contests. The trustee does not bear the burden of establishing that the trust is valid, nor that the grantor was competent when the trust was made.

Sometimes grantors place no-contest clauses in trusts. This clause is put in place to forfeit the right of anybody who contests to receive anything. However, if the challenge to the trust’s validity is successful, the clause may be meaningless; the person contesting the validity of the trust would only lose benefits under the trust if unable to succeed in the trust contest.

Contesting a Revocable Trust

Revocable trusts work the same way that wills do. The trust instrument has to specify that the trust is revocable or else it is deemed irrevocable. Revocable trusts can set the standard of competence required on the grantor’s part in order for a grantor to amend or revoke a trust instrument. A grantor can amend or revoke a revocable trust during his life, but the grantor’s distributees or a fiduciary of the grantor’s estate can only start a proceeding to invalidate a revocable trust after a grantor’s death. The six-year statute of limitations starts to run against a distributee or adversely affected person at the grantor’s death.

An experienced lawyer can explain the different grounds for contesting a revocable trust. Trust contests may be brought on grounds of lack of capacity, undue influence, undue execution, duress, forgery and fraud. Where, for example, a decedent created a trust while suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, he may have lacked the capacity to make the trust. In order to show lack of capacity, you would need to show that the person who made the trust did not understand the nature or extent of the property, how the trust was set up, or their relationships to relatives and others impacted by the trust. Another potential grounds for challenging a trust is undue influence. If a trust beneficiary was in a relationship of confidence with the person who made the trust and benefitted from that relationship, the court may infer that the beneficiary influenced the person who made the trust. The burden would shift to the beneficiary to show that there was no undue influence.

Contesting an Irrevocable Trust

Irrevocable trusts can only be changed when the grantor and all parties with a beneficial interest in the trust have given consent. Contesting an irrevocable trust may be more challenging than contesting a revocable trust. In order to establish lack of capacity to make the trust, you would need to show that the grantor did not have rational judgment about the transaction; that is, the court will look at whether the grantor had capacity in making the irrevocable trust. The grantor of the trust must have had the mental capacity to understand what the trust was for and to act voluntarily without threats of force. Persons lack capacity if they are wholly and absolutely incompetent to understand and comprehend the nature of a transaction.

Consult an Estate Litigation Attorney in New York City

If you are concerned about bringing or defending against a trust contest in New York City, you should talk to lawyer Jules Haas about your situation. Mr. Haas has represented clients in estate litigation for over three decades. He represents people in the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan, along with Nassau, Suffolk, Kings, Westchester, and Richmond Counties. We offer a free case review as well as reasonable fee arrangements. Call us at (212) 355-2575 or contact us through our online form.

Client Reviews
I am very grateful to Mr. Jules Martin Haas attorney of law in New York. I am from Buenos Aires Argentina. He managed with expertise a very difficult situation. of a complicate heritage from my aunt Anna Grodzka that lived and died a very long time ago in New York. I recommend him not only for his extraordinary knowledge but also for his kindness. Irma CW Peusner
I found Mr. Haas after being misguided by a former attorney. Mr. Jules Haas took our case which involved an estate/trust dispute. What initially seemed like an impossible and overwhelming legal fight was now in the hands of someone who had the integrity and legal expertise to win our case. Mr Haas' attention to detail and his expert knowledge base, skillfully and successfully guided us through an intricate legal process. I am very thankful and grateful to Mr. Jules Haas for representing our interest and ultimately winning. Bringing about a peace of mind we needed. Thank You Devida Nedd
I was in need of a guardianship attorney and I hired the services of Jules M. Haas' Law firm. The service of counselor Haas and his staff, was very profesional and the case was handled in a timely matter. I would strongly recommend his services Angel Guevara
I strongly recommend Jules Haas. I have worked with him for two years and he has provided so much support and followed through with everything he promised he would do. His support staff is just as helpful! We had an interesting case and he helped to solve each part of it legally and was very thorough. Thank you for everything you have done to finalize our families estate Robyn Stafford
Jules Haas helped me with managing the process in probate court for my father's estate through to its completion upon the sale of my father's house. He was knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in submitting documentation to the probate court, explaining procedures to me, and advising me as to the progress of my case. His support staff was also very helpful. He made what for me created so much anxiety into something manageable where I could see progress every step of the way. His fees were very reasonable. I am super grateful to him for all the help he has provided and strongly recommend his services. Diana Janer
I just completed an estate transaction where Jules Haas represented my client in an estate and he did a great job! He was very quick at responding to all matters throughout the sale process, he was detailed, he was knowledgeable and he was a pleasure to work with. I just recommended him to some new clients who are going through an estate matter and will continue to recommend him. Rodolfo Lucchese