Trust Contests

Like wills, trusts can be contested by interested parties. At the law offices of Sweeney, Reich & Bolz LLP, we provide vigorous representation and advocacy to clients who are contesting trusts or who are defending against trust contests. Our goal is always to protect our client’s interests and preserve their rights.

While many attorneys are reluctant to take trust contest cases to trial, our attorneys, under the leadership of Gerard J. Sweeney and Frank A. Bolz III, have a reputation in the community as advocates willing and able to take trust contests to trial. The experienced attorneys at Sweeney, Reich & Bolz LLP will review your individual circumstances and provide you with effective counsel whether you are contesting or defending a trust so that you may rest easy knowing you are in capable hands.

Grounds for Contesting a Trust

Trust contests are similar to will contests in that the contestant is required to challenge the validity of the construction or administration of a trust on grounds such as:

  • The individual who established the trust (“the grantor”) was mentally incompetent when the trust was created.
  • Someone unduly influenced the grantor to create or alter the trust for that persons own benefit and contrary to the desires of the grantor. Undue influence can involve an individual in a confidential relationship with the grantor, such as a doctor, caretaker, attorney or relative. It could also involve a potential beneficiary threatening or coercing the grantor to name the person or an organization as a trust beneficiary.
  • The trust was improperly drafted. A trust may be invalid if it fails to conform with New York state and/or federal requirements for the specific type of trust.
  • The trust was not properly executed. There are specific requirements set up by New York state and/or federal law governing the execution of a trust document. If, for example, the trust document was not properly signed and witnessed, it may be grounds to invalidate the trust.
  • The trust documents have been forged. In particular, trusts drafted by someone other than the lawyer, or altered after the trust document has been executed, may be vulnerable to this charge.
  • The trust was not properly funded.

At Sweeney, Reich & Bolz LLP, our attorneys represent clients on either side of trust contests. We have a history of successfully advocating for our clients in litigation involving all types of trusts, including inter vivos trusts, special needs trusts, testamentary trusts, charitable trusts and many more. We also have advocated for clients in other trust proceedings, including the removal of fiduciaries and surcharging removed fiduciaries for assets wrongful transferred from the trust. In addition, our lawyers are skilled at assisting clients construct trusts properly so that they can avoid probate and litigation issues that may arise with an improperly drafted trust instrument.