Challenging a New Jersey Trust
If you are a beneficiary to a revocable trust and you want to contest its validity, you must do so no later than the earlier of (a) four months of your receipt of a copy of the trust from the trustee along with a notice containing certain other information; or (b) three years after the death of the settlor of the trust.
In New Jersey, there are two bases to contest the validity of a revocable trust, both of which can be a challenge to prove. If you decide to contest the document or any circumstances surrounding it, you will not have much time to prepare your case. You might want to retain an experienced estate planning litigation lawyer as quickly as possible to help you navigate through the details and help you prepare for the court case. It takes time to prepare a case to prove that the final trust goes against the intentions of the settlor or that the document may otherwise be invalid.
On What Grounds Can You Contest a Trust?
To contest a trust, you need to have the grounds to do so. They include:
- Lack of mental capacity: This challenge states that the settlor lacked the mental capacity to sign a trust and the cognitive ability to understand what they are signing.
- Undue influence: When the person was susceptible to outside pressure, they would restructure their trust to include the person who has been unduly influencing them. It needs to be proven that the factors being contested are things that under normal circumstances, the settlor would never have done.
For these claims to stand up in court, a great deal of discovery needs to be performed. Both of these claims are dependent on facts that may be obtained through extensive communications with family members and the thorough examination of medical and financial records and other evidence. Your Hackensack lawyer can explain the process of gathering evidence that would lead to a trust being invalidated.
Cases Related to Fraud
In cases where a trust needs to be invalidated due to fraud or duress, your case must be filed quickly. In cases of fraud, the perpetrator most likely had convinced the settlor to hand over large sums of money, give away expensive belongings, and other actions that ultimately lead up to the trust being rewritten to favor the influencer.
These cases must be acted on so that the remainder of the estate can be quickly secured along with any property that needs to be recovered. Since the smart con artist is adept at liquidating assets and hiding money, this can be a difficult process. A Hackensack estate planning litigation lawyer can guide you through the process of challenging the trust when fraud is suspected.
Inappropriate Actions of Trustees
Sometimes, the named trustee of the trust will inappropriately disburse funds, siphon money for themselves, or present an incorrect accounting to the courts. The key role of a trustee is their fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. The trustee is directly responsible for protecting the beneficiaries as well as the trust property itself. If you suspect the trustee of impropriety, you will need to prevent them from presenting their accounting and other necessary documents that will serve to validate the trust quickly.
Challenges are accepted by the court as long as they are entered before the deadline set by New Jersey law. Your lawyer can help you gather everything you will need for a challenge.
What We Can Do for You
At Knee Law, we have extensive experience in handling trust disputes and other types of estate litigation. We have a combined 60 years of experience working on these types of matters on behalf of beneficiaries. If you are a New Jersey resident, you can contact us by filling out and submitting our online form, or you can call us today at 201-996-1200 to set up a consultation.