Chances of successfully contesting a trust

Chances of Successfully Contesting a Trust

Becoming Familiar with the Legal Process

If you believe a trust has been created incorrectly or its terms are unfair, you can contest it. However, contesting a trust can be an intricate legal process with uncertain outcomes. This article will examine your success chances and the legal steps involved.

by | Apr 17, 2023

Understanding Trusts and Their Purpose

Before we explore contesting a trust, it is essential to comprehend what a trust is and its purpose. A trust is an entity a grantor creates to hold and manage assets for one or more beneficiaries. The grantor transfers ownership of these assets to the trust, which then gets managed according to its document provisions.

A trust is designed to allow grantors to distribute their assets according to their wishes while avoiding probate and minimizing estate taxes. Furthermore, trusts may offer specific protections for these assets, such as shielding them from creditors or providing for long-term care needs.

Grounds for Contesting a Trust

Trusts can be beneficial estate planning tools, but they’re not immune from legal challenges. There are several grounds on which a trust may be challenged, including:

Lack of Capacity

If the grantor was not of sound mind when they created the trust, it might be possible to contest its creation on the grounds of lack of capacity. Lack of capacity indicates they needed to comprehend its nature or potential repercussions.

Undue Influence

If the grantor was coerced or manipulated into creating a trust, contesting its creation on the grounds of undue influence might be possible. Undue influence implies they were not acting out of their free will when creating the trust.


If the trust was created using false or misleading information, contesting its creation for fraud might be possible. Fraud means that the grantor was deceived into creating the trust.

Improper Execution

If the trust was not executed correctly, you might be able to contest it on the grounds of improper execution. Improper execution typically means the trust document wasn’t signed or witnessed.

The Legal Process of Contesting a Trust

If you believe you have grounds to contest a trust, the first step should be consulting an experienced estate planning attorney. They can assess your case and advise whether contesting the trust is worth exploring.

If you decide to contest the trust, the legal process typically entails these steps:

Filing a Petition

The initial step in contesting a trust is filing a petition with the probate court. This petition should clearly state your grounds for contesting the trust and provide evidence supporting your position.

Notifying All Relevant Parties

Once the petition has been filed, you must notify all relevant parties, such as the trustee, beneficiaries, and heirs. They will have an opportunity to respond and defend the trust.


In the discovery phase, both sides will gather evidence to support their position. Discovery may involve depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents.

Mediation or Settlement

Before a case goes to trial, parties can engage in mediation or settlement negotiations to try and reach an amicable resolution.


If the case does not settle, it will proceed to trial. At this point, the court will hear evidence from both sides and decide based on the facts of the case.

Chances of Success

Your chances of winning a trust contest depend on several factors, including the strength of your case, any evidence presented, and how the judge interprets the law.

There is hope if you have solid grounds for contesting a trust and ample evidence supporting your case. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney who has succeeded in trust litigation can significantly boost your odds of victory.


Contesting a trust can be an emotionally charged and complex process, but protecting your rights and those of other beneficiaries may be necessary. It is essential to comprehend the legal grounds for contesting a trust and the steps involved in litigation. While success is never guaranteed, working with an experienced attorney and having substantial evidence supporting your case can increase your chances of victory.


Can a trust be contested after the grantor’s death?

Yes, it is possible to contest a trust even after the grantor has passed away. The legal process for contesting it remains unchanged whether the grantor is alive or deceased.

Can I contest a trust if I am not named beneficiary?

In certain circumstances, you may have grounds to contest even if you are not named as one of the beneficiaries. Contesting the trust depends on your relationship with the grantor and other factors.

How long does the legal process for contesting a trust take?

Depending on the complexity of the case and whether a trial is needed, legal proceedings for contesting trusts may last several months to years.

What Happens if the Trust is Successfully Contested?

If a trust is successfully challenged, the court can modify its terms or declare it invalid. After this occurs, assets in the trust will be distributed according to the court’s ruling.

Is it possible to avoid a trust contest entirely?

Absolutely. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney and crafting a well-crafted trust document that addresses potential obstacles and reduces the chance of legal disputes, you can avoid these costly disputes in the first place.

About Hess-Verdon Trust Litigation Law Firm

Hess-Verdon & Associates is one of the most knowledgeable and most sophisticated trusts and estate law firm in the state of California at both the trial and appellate levels.

Our legal team of Trust Attorneys is well-versed in estate planningtrust administration, and trust litigation.

Our viewpoint is the following: Aggressive legal representation with a team of experts that protect you, our preferred client, with current tax and estate planning strategies.

Our litigation team has spent years acquiring extensive experience in trial preparation, strategy, and trial presentation to help you with your specific case.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs, qualifications, staffing approaches, and rate structures to resolve the estate and trust-related matters successfully. Our knowledgeable and aggressive actions are necessary to ensure the trustor/grantor maintains their wishes on the administration of the trust. Call 1-888-318-4430.



How Do You Sue a Trustee of a Trust? What to Consider!

How Do You Sue a Trustee of a Trust? What to Consider!

How Do You Sue a Trustee of a Trust? Use an Expert Trust Litigator Suing a trustee of a trust can be a complicated and challenging process. We provide an overview of the steps involved in suing a trustee, including understanding the grounds for suing, the legal...

Trust Litigation Attorney Fees: What You Need to Know

Trust Litigation Attorney Fees: What You Need to Know

Trust Litigation Attorney Fees Trust litigation can be a complex and overwhelming process, often necessitating the expertise of an experienced attorney. When hiring a trust litigation attorney, cost should always be considered - we'll look at factors like fee...

Falsely Accused of Undue Influence – What to Understand

Falsely Accused of Undue Influence – What to Understand

ADDRESSING FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF UNDUE INFLUENCE FOR TRUSTEES IN ESTATE PLANNING As a trustee, your role in managing and overseeing an estate plan is essential. You are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the testator's wishes are carried out, and their...