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Trust and Estate Litigation Attorneys Manage Trust Contests in New York

A trust contest is a challenge to the establishment of a trust or to the manner in which it is being administered. A beneficiary who believes that something is amiss in the formation of the trust or the way a trustee is managing assets can sue to invalidate the trust or to force an accounting. At the Cormac McEnery Law Firm, we represent estates, trustees and beneficiaries in trust contests and related litigation. For more than 35 years, we have provided our New York clients with ethical representation and personalized service.

The grounds for challenging a trust are virtually identical to those for challenging a will:

  • Flawed execution
  • Undue influence or coercion
  • Lack of mental capacity
  • Fraud

A combination of undue influence and lack of capacity is the most common scenario. Someone with access, often a relative who acts as primary caretaker, leverages his relationship with an elder relative to induce the elder to form a trust that treats the caregiver more favorably than other potential heirs. In such cases, the Surrogate Court looks for evidence of manipulation which might include:

  • Using the caregiver’s attorney as a drafts person
  • Revising existing testamentary documents to create the trust
  • Disparity of benefits, especially between the caregiver and heirs of equal or greater standing
  • Declining health for the grantor around the time changes were made
  • Caregiver’s exercise of control over relatives’ access to the grantor

Once the trust is established, a trustee oversees the assets and manages them according to the terms of the trust. This often involves prudent investment and periodic disbursement. When the trust does not generate expected revenues, the beneficiaries may suspect mismanagement of the assets. Unprofessional management might rise to the level of a violation of the trustee’s fiduciary duty, for which the trustee can be held personally liable. Concerned beneficiaries can challenge the trustee in Surrogate Court. In an accounting contest, one or more beneficiaries ask the court to compel the trustee to disclose the finances of the trust in detail.

If you are considering any type of estate litigation, make sure to consult a skilled trial lawyer with experience in probate administration.

Statute of limitations for trust contests in Westchester, New York

If you wish to challenge the formation of a trust in New York Surrogate Court, you have six years to do so. In the case of a living will creating a trust, the six year period commences upon the grantor’s death. We recommend taking action much earlier, however, because while the trust is active, the trustee can distribute and invest assets according to the terms of the trust. These actions can deplete the trust so that there is very little to contest once you’ve filed suit.

For questions about trust contests, speak to an estates attorney

The Cormac McEnery Law Firm provides legal representation for estates, beneficiaries and trustees in trust contests and other estate disputes. If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities, take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced trusts attorney. Call 888.368.4329 or contact us online. We serve clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.