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Contesting & Challenging Trusts
A Trust Challenge is a type of litigation that challenges the execution or terms of the Trust. Issues that are likely to spur the Trust Litigation include:
- the Settlor or Trustor lacked mental capacity; i.e., was senile, delusional, or of unsound mind at the time the Trusts was created or was subjected to fraud, coercion or undue influence during its creation and implementation. Finally it may have been an ambiguities in the terms of the Trust.
- the Trust is a forgery or does not conform to legal requirements as to the number and nature of the witnesses.
If the Trust is thrown out, the court may disallow only the part of the Will that was challenged or throw out the entire Will of the decedent, distributing the property as if the person died without a Will, or use the last previous Will, depending on state law and the specific facts and circumstances.
Trust Accountings in Texas under the Property Code
A beneficiary or someone with standing such as a spouse or descendant can demand an accounting for a Trust. Texas Property Code § 113.151. Demand For Trust Accounting
(a) A beneficiary by written demand may request the trustee to deliver to each beneficiary of the trust a written statement of accounts covering all transactions since the last accounting or since the creation of the trust, whichever is later. If the trustee fails or refuses to deliver the statement on or before the 90th day after the date the trustee receives the demand or after a longer period ordered by a court, any beneficiary of the trust may file suit to compel the trustee to deliver the statement to all beneficiaries of the trust. The court may require the trustee to deliver a written statement of account to all beneficiaries on finding that the nature of the beneficiary’s interest in the trust or the effect of the administration of the trust on the beneficiary’s interest is sufficient to require an accounting by the trustee. However, the trustee is not obligated or required to account to the beneficiaries of a trust more frequently than once every 12 months unless a more frequent accounting is required by the court. If a beneficiary is successful in the suit to compel a statement under this section, the court may, in its discretion, award all or part of the costs of court and all of the suing beneficiary’s reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees and costs against the trustee in the trustee’s individual capacity or in the trustee’s capacity as trustee.
(b) An interested person may file suit to compel the trustee to account to the interested person. The court may require the trustee to deliver a written statement of account to the interested person on finding that the nature of the interest in the trust of, the claim against the trust by, or the effect of the administration of the trust on the interested person is sufficient to require an accounting by the trustee.
Trusts are estate-planning tools that can replace or supplement Wills, as well as help manage property during life. A trust manages the distribution of a person’s property by transferring its benefits and obligations to different people. By maintaining assets in a Trust, it is often easier to minimize taxes and leave a larger inheritance. A Trust is also a way to provide a steady income to the Beneficiary over the course of time, rather than distribution in a lump sum. This strategy can reduce the Beneficiary’s tax and allow the Trust to grow through investment, and keep assets free from creditors of the Trust beneficiary. Trusts can also be established for the benefit of charitable organization.
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