TRUST AND WILL CONTESTS
AN INHERITANCE WILL MOST LIKELY BE THE LARGEST SUM OF MONEY THAT MOST PEOPLE WILL EVER SEE IN THEIR LIFETIMES. ~
The death of a spouse, relative, or friend can often bring out the worst in heirs and beneficiaries. Litigation occurs because of conflict among different generations of heirs, i,e, brothers, sisters, grandchildren, cousins, aunts and uncles. Children become resentful when Bobby receives a larger inheritance than Janie as Mom or Dad loved him best. Stepchildren turn resentful as they see their parent’s property being distributed to the stepparent or even the stepparent’s children or even worse, the new spouse of the stepparent.
One of the most common problems we encounter in trust disputes is when one or more relatives has unduly influenced the parent or relative to make changes to their trusts to leave all or more to those relatives. The other relatives don’t know that they have been disinherited or had their inheritance reduced until after the relative dies.
Another problem we see is when a child, sibling or other relative has taken over the financial affairs of an elderly person and then uses the trust monies to make improvements to their own homes, buy cars, vacations, etc. Then, when the elderly person dies, the Trustee refuses to provide any information or accountings to the beneficiaries. As a beneficiary of a Trust, you have certain rights:
1. TRUST ACCOUNTINGS:
If you are a beneficiary of your parent’s or relative’s trust, have you received a full accounting of the assets in the trust, of the income earned by the trust, copies of the invoices for expenses of the trust, proof of the time spent by the Trustee or the Trustee’s attorney for fees billed to your Trust?
By law, you are entitled to these things. It is your money! The Trustee is required to act for your benefit, be loyal to you, and is required to provide you full information about the dealings and workings of the trust. If they are not answering your questions and providing you with the information you request, then you definitely need to contact an attorney to obtain those things for you.
2. UNDUE INFLUENCE/FRAUD:
Has someone, a neighbor or friend of your relative, worked their way into the confidences of your elderly relative? This happens quite frequently, especially when you and other relatives live far away. Many people go to Senior Centers to prey on senior citizens who are lonely and have no relatives living close by. Or, caregivers who are with the senior daily, then influence the senior to leave all of their worldly goods to them in a new Will or Trust. You, as the distant living relative, may be able to have the court declare such a Will or Trust invalid based on fraud and undue influence.