Shutt Law Firm handles Texas estate litigation, including will contests and trust disputes. A “will contest” is when a person legally challenges or disputes a deceased person’s Last Will and Testament. A trust dispute is a legal case involving the terms or the administration of a trust. Texas will contests and trust disputes are usually lawsuits handled in probate court, though many estate cases settle outside of court. Here are some of the top questions people have about trust disputes:
1. When Should You Dispute a Trust in Texas?
A Trust is another way, other than a Last Will and Testament, to transfer property after someone dies. Trusts and Wills can have similar legal defects. Certain legal arguments used to challenge a Will are also used to challenge a Trust. Listed below are some common Trust dispute legal arguments:
1. The person creating the Trust (called the “Settlor,” the “Grantor,” or the “Trustor”)) lacked mental capacity to sign a trust document. In Texas, a lack of mental capacity to create a trust usually means either that the settlor didn’t understand the trust document he signed, the settlor didn’t grasp what he owned, or the settlor didn’t mentally grasp how the trust document would distribute the trust property.
2. The wording used in the Trust is confusing or ambiguous, and it’s unclear what the Settlor actually wanted.
3. Someone exerted “undue influence” on the Settlor, meaning that someone forced the Settlor to sign the trust document.
4. Someone forged the Settlor’s signature on the Trust document or the Settlor signed the document but didn’t realize it was a Trust.
5. In cases involving a handwritten Wills, the Will is not entirely in the handwriting of the Will-Signer.
2. When Should You Dispute the Handling of a Trust in Texas?
Sometimes a Trust dispute case arises when the Trust document itself is not being disputed. Sometimes a Trust dispute arises when the way the Trust is being handled is improper. For example, sometimes the trustee of the Trust is failing to follow the terms of Trust document. Other trustees steal from the Trust. Keep in mind that the trustee owes the beneficiaries of the Trust a “fiduciary duty.” This is a high legal duty to do what’s best for the beneficiaries, including managing the Trust’s investments wisely.
3. How Long Does a Trust Dispute Last?
Disputing a Trust in Texas can take weeks or can take decades. It depends mostly on how valuable the assets of the Trust are and how “dug-in” the parties become. Trust dispute cases that are short are the ones that settle outside of court. In fact, most Trust dispute cases do settle outside of court. The longer lawsuits, however, can last years. For example, this article is about a Trust dispute that is 20 years old, and the legal battle is still ongoing.
4. How Much Does a Trust Dispute Cost?
The primary expense in a Trust dispute is the attorney fees. As you can imagine, attorney fees in legal battles can really add up the longer the case continues. Many Trust dispute attorneys (like the ones at Shutt Law Firm) will offer a free consultation meeting. At the consultation meeting, the Texas trust attorney learns more about the case and discusses the potential attorney fees. Because disputing a Trust in Texas can get very expensive, you can also consider a contingency fee billing arrangement with your lawyer. Under a contingency fee, the attorney only collects a fee if you win something, and the attorney fee is a percentage of the amount you won.
To ask a legal question or get legal help from and Texas Wills and Probate lawyer Isaac Shutt, use the online contact form to the right or call (214) 302-8197. If you prefer to meet at the probate law office in person, the attorneys will gladly offer a free consultation.
Visit www.ShuttLawFirm.com for more information on when to Dispute a Trust in Texas, the Trust Dispute process, the attorney fees for contesting a Trust in Texas, or any other issues involving Texas estate litigation, contact Texas Estate Litigation Attorneys Isaac Shutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shutt Law Firm’s office is conveniently located just north of Dallas, and just south of Plano, TX. The law office is near the intersection of highway 75 and Campbell Road in Richardson, Texas.
You can also call Mr. Shutt or Mr. Hall at (214) 302-8197 for more information on the topic discussed in this article or to discuss a different legal matter.
Please consider the Shutt Law Firm for probate in Texas, Texas Last Will and Testaments, estate disputes, Trust disputes, or you need Richardson probate lawyers serving Dallas, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Garland, Addison, Denton, TX, Collin County, Tarrant County, or surrounding North Texas area.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this brief article constitutes legal advice. The information provided herein is merely provided in the spirit of education and is believed to be accurate as of the time it was originally prepared, and laws change. If you have a legal question, you should consult a lawyer for your specific legal situation. Further, nothing in this article shall be construed to have started an attorney-client relationship. No such relationship exists until both you and and an attorney at Shutt Law Firm sign an engagement letter.
By Elizabeth Nanez