What to expect if a trust is challenged

When a loved one dies, emotions run high. This distress is only amplified if one or more beneficiaries to the deceased’s trust believes the terms of the trust should not be followed. They may feel the trust was only entered into due to coercion or undue influence. Or they may feel that their loved one lacked the mental capacity to execute a trust. Whatever the reason, it is helpful to know what happens when a trust is challenged in Georgia.

First, it is important to understand that during the process of contesting a trust, unlike contesting a will, trust assets will continue to be distributed to all trust beneficiaries until the outcome of the trust litigation is ascertained. Trusts may also be amended by the court, especially if a new child is born or the court determines that additional family members should have been included per the testator’s original intentions.

If the court determines that the trust is valid, the beneficiaries will continue to receive assets from the trust, per the terms of the trust. However, if the trust is deemed invalid, the aggrieved beneficiary may be awarded specific trust assets. Sometimes it is possible for aggrieved beneficiaries to reach a settlement with other beneficiaries.

Challenging a trust is not easy. Courts are generally going to scrutinize the situation carefully, as a trust is held to serve as the testator’s voice once the testator is no longer around to speak for him or herself. For this reason, those who want to contest a trust or those who are facing a trust challenge and believe the terms of the trust should be upheld may benefit from seeking professional advice.