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Contesting a Will or Trust

Nebraska Will & Trust Dispute Lawyer

Domina Law Group has successfully handled Will Contests and disputes and Trust Contests and disputes in multiple states in the US. We have represented clients on both sides of a Will or Trust related dispute, those that want the most recent Will to be valid and in other instances those who sought to overturn what they believe was not the last true and valid Will of a loved one but rather the product of undue influence by another seeking to influence the decedent for their personal gain.

In the arena of Trust disputes our work ranges from assisting Trustees in defending Trust challenges and initiating lawsuits against beneficiaries or others who are indebted to or owe money to the Trust that should be available to distribution to the Trust beneficiaries to assisting beneficiaries that believe provisions or language of a Trust were the product of undue influence or manipulation.

Sometimes when land is a part of a Will or a Trust, interested parties, such as siblings, who may not get along end up owning assets or land jointly or with undivided interests in the entire piece of land. We assist clients in filing Partition lawsuits designed to sell the land in question and distribute the proceeds so to alleviate and solve the problem of owning assets with individuals who don't get along and should not be business partners.

Recent examples of successful lawsuits relating to Will and Trust contests include:

  • When two large churches learned a Will left a decedent's assets to them, but was supplanted late in his life by a later Will giving his assets to an intervenor much younger, with whom the decedent's relationship was limited, Domina Law Group was hired to solve the problem. After the Will Contest trial concluded the Churches were victorious and the later Will was deemed invalid and a product of undue influence. The substantial assets of the decent were sold, reduced to cash, and passed to the Churches as directed pursuant to the older Will we fought to be deemed the last and valid Will.
  • When a nephew of decedent learned a later Will cut him out completely from any proceeds when a Will just two years earlier had left him seven figures in assets he called a Nebraska will contest attorney at Domina Law Group. After filing a Will Contest lawsuit, we obtained a seven figure result. He had first called us entitled to nothing but left our office a millionaire.

Other types of representative casework include:

  • Intensive sibling disputes over trusts and estates;
  • Fights between brothers and sisters to divide huge companies with trust and estate overtones;
  • Deathbed Will contests;
  • Suits to set aside deeds and determine property interests;
  • Family farm and ranching partnerships affected by Will contests and Trust disputes.

Common Will & Trust Contest Questions

Can a will be challenged? - Yes. A will can be challenged for a variety of reasons, this is called a will contest. Challenges to wills are typically brought on by family members who feel unfairly represented in the inheritance. The process of verifying a will is known as probate and probate courts will hear legal issues regarding wills and trusts.

Who may challenge a will? - In order to challenge a will, one must have standing in the probate court. A person with standing is either a beneficiary named in the will or if the person would automatically inherit from the estate if the will was invalid. The latter group would likely be spouses or immediate blood relation.

How is a will contested? - There must be a legal basis shown for contesting a will. This can be shown by many ways including:

  • The will maker was not mentally competent at the time the will was drafted or signed
  • The will maker was pressured by someone to agree to certain terms
  • The will maker has another will or trust which trumps
  • The will was not properly witnessed or signed
  • The will maker was mistaken or induced by fraud to sign the will

What happens if a will is challenged? - With a successful challenge, either the entire will or part will be voided. A prior will may be reinstated, a new will may be created, or if there is no prior will the deceased assets are distributed as intestacy.

Do I need to consult a attorney regarding will contests? - Whether you believe you've been wrongfully deprived of inheritance or you have a will being contested, you should contact a lawyer immediately to protect your rights. Domina Law Group can inform you of your rights and preserve any legal remedies you may have.

Can a trust be challenged? - Yes. The validity of a trust can be challenged on much of the same grounds as a will. Challenges to trusts are typically brought by an individual who is eligible to inherit a decedent's property, but who isn't a beneficiary of the trust. The process of contesting a trust takes place in the probate court of the state that has jurisdiction over the trust.

Who may challenge a trust? - In order to challenge a trust, one must have legal standing. A person with standing is one that has a legal interest in the trust. This may be a beneficiary of the trust or someone who is eligible to inherit but was not named a beneficiary.

How is a trust challenged? - There must be a legal basis for contesting a trust. This can be shown in many ways including:

  • The one executing the trust was not mentally competent at the time the trust was drafted or signed.
  • The one executing the trust was unduly influenced to do so.
  • The one executing the trust has another will or trust in conflict.
  • The trust was not properly witnessed or signed.

What if a trust is valid but is being mismanaged or administered improperly? - A trust can be challenged after it has been validly executed. Trustees are fiduciaries. They are required to act in the best interest of the trust beneficiaries. Trust misconduct can happen in many ways including:

  • The trustee is refusing to comply with the terms of the trust.
  • The trustee is taking loans against the trust assets
  • The trustee is manipulating the terms of the trust for their own gain.
  • The trustee is making improper investment choices.

What happens if a trust is challenged? - If it is proven that the trust is not valid, the state with jurisdiction over the trust will have no choice but to distribute the estate with its interstate succession laws rather than in accordance with the terms of the trust. If it is proven that the trust is being mismanaged or administered improperly, you must initiate legal proceedings in Court to make sure your interests are represented and that any bad acts by the Trustees or those in control will be made to account for their actions. In some instances a Trustee will be held personally liable for their bad acts.

Do I need to consult a lawyer regarded trust contests? - Whether you believe you've been wrongfully deprived of inheritance or you have a trust being contested, you should contact a trust contest attorney immediately to protect your rights.

Domina Law Group can inform you or your rights and preserve any legal remedies you may have. Contact our firm today and speak to an experienced attorney.

Domina Law Group - Case Studies

Can’t we all just get along? Families - You can’t live with them and well, sometimes you may just want to live without them! (Will and Trust Contest Fights)

This is often the case in our family and closely held corporation dispute practice within our law firm. We handle numerous Will, Trust and estate challenges as well as family and closely held partnership challenges where the essence of the fight are almost always deep-seated issues between siblings, parents, children or relatives that have been unresolved for decades. It is almost always the case once there is money or assets and a death or estate plan that purports to distribute those assets and certain allocations, that is just what one or more of the family needed to start a fight or induce them prior to the fight to change documents or unduly influence the individual in control of the assets to give, will or devise the asset to that person to the detriment of others.

We handle more Will and Trust contest litigation than any other Plaintiff’s law firm in the State of Nebraska. These types of cases, while the specific facts and players are always different, the overall themes remain the same. Our clients are always initially shocked upon first telling us the layers of disfunction within their family and expressing their disbelief at how they have been treated by family members and always end their soliloquy in which they share this information by saying “Can you believe that? Have you ever heard of a family so screwed up before?” To which I always reply, “Yes I have, I have had this exact same conversation multiple times already this month.” You see the reality is, most adult conflicts between parents, siblings or other family members can be traced back to our childhoods.

Now that may sound like psychobabble but it is unbelievable how many childhood early adolescent wrongs or perceived wrongs are thought out later in life and sometimes with multimillions at stake. One such recent case was that of an elderly man who had amassed millions of dollars of real estate and farm land throughout his life. He and his wife did not have any children and his wife predeceased him. He had a local lawyer draft a trust years before his death that allocated where his assets and collectibles and money and personal property would go and directed that it be distributed to various nieces, nephews, and other family members.

Around the time when this individual was moved from his home into assisted living and then transitioned to a nursing home prior to his death, he allegedly made an amendment to his trust which switched the beneficiary of nearly a million dollars in assets from his nephew now going all to his niece. These individuals were brother and sister and to say they did not get along would be a gigantic understatement. Needless to say, the nephew was pretty unhappy to learn the decedent he felt was a father figure, who he used to live with and was very close with, would no longer leave the land promised to him his entire life and rather give all of it to his sister.

Predictably the parties could not agree initially on how to resolve this matter and the animosity and hatred ran deep. Domina Law’s lawyer Brian Jorde filed suit challenging the purported Trust Amendment and attacking its validity for a number of reasons. After over a year of litigation the parties were ordered to mediation which ultimately resolved the case on confidential terms.

If you suspect you might be a victim of someone changing or modifying a Will or Trust, or somehow being deceptive with assets that you are entitled to, or within a corporation that you are a part of or may be entitled to a part of, contact us immediately so we can help you before this gets too late. It is often harder to make a case far after the fact than it is to address things right as you learn of them!

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