Estate and Trust Contest Lawyers in Clarksville: Representing Your Interests in Probate Court
In an ideal world, wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents would always be clear and leave no question as to the deceased’s intentions. However, this isn’t always the case. When there appears to be inaccurate or incomplete information or a breach of duty by a trustee, it may call for a contest claim.
If you are thinking about contesting a will or a trust, it’s important to understand that these are complex legal situations that require experience and a thorough knowledge of the applicable Tennessee laws. At Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, we help our clients understand whether they have grounds to contest an estate and how to start the process.
Can a Will Be Contested?
When someone passes with a will in place, that will outlines their wishes for how their assets should be handled after their death. In many cases, this will be fairly cut and dried, with the will going through probate and the executor of the estate dispersing the property afterward. However, what happens when there appear to be multiple wills or, if when the will is read, it doesn’t seem to line up with what would be expected of that person’s wishes? In these situations, a family member may choose to contest the will.
There are very specific guidelines for how a will is contested and who can do it. In general, it needs to be someone in the succession list, which is who would have inherited the property if there was no will at all. This is because the person needs to be able to show that they have a financial interest in the case. They will also need to have a strong case for why the will should be discarded. Some possible reasons for a will to be contested include the will appearing to be inaccurate, if the deceased was not in the proper state of mind at the time of the will’s creation, or if it’s believed that the will was coerced or fraudulent.
What Is a Trust Contest?
A trust contest is very similar to a will contest, except it involves a trust instead of a will. For someone to contest a trust, they must have a clear financial interest. For example, if a parent dies and leaves their assets to only one of their children in a trust, the other children would have a financial interest — also sometimes referred to as a pecuniary interest — because had the trust not been in place, they would have inherited the assets equally through the intestate succession laws in Tennessee.
Trusts are also contested for similar reasons as wills. However, with a trust, there is the added factor of the trustee’s duty. If the trustee is suspected of not fulfilling their duties, not correctly handling the trust according to the terms set up, or stealing with the trust, it is grounds for the trust to be contested.
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what legal rights you have before going through with a contest. These types of issues often have long-term effects on familial relationships, so it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney before you take any official steps to determine if you have a case and what your options are to proceed.
Is There a Limit on How Long You Have to Contest a Trust in Tennessee?
The state sets a statute of limitations for how long someone has to bring forth a contest claim for a trust. For both trusts and wills, the person must file their contest claim within 2 years. If the will is being contested, the clock starts when it enters probate. If it’s a trust, the time starts when the trustee mails the notification of administration. This is letting those involved know that they have been named trustee and are taking on those official duties.
It’s normal to not be concerned about these matters when you are dealing with fresh grief, but if you think that you might want to contest a will or trust, it’s important to talk with an attorney as soon as possible. It can take time to decide what you want to do, gather evidence, and actually file the claim, so the sooner you start working with an attorney the better.
How Can an Estate Attorney Help?
An estate planning and probate attorney is a lawyer who has extensive knowledge and experience with matters pertaining to estates, wills, and trusts. If you are considering contesting a will or trust, an attorney can go over the details of your case — including the documents and reason you believe a contest is warranted — and help you understand if it’s worth it to file your claim. They can also explain what would happen if you win or lose so you can be prepared for your next steps.
If someone else is contesting a will or trust that names you as the beneficiary, an attorney can work with you to defend your inheritance and provide a strong argument for why the deceased’s wishes should be upheld.
The time after a loved one’s passing should be a time of grieving and celebrating their life and legacy. If you are also dealing with an estate contest, let us help by taking some of the burden and representing your interests in these legal matters. Call our Clarksville office at 931-218-7800 to speak with a member of our team. They can help you schedule a free consultation so you can find out more about our services and how we can help you.