Trust Contests: Disputes and How to Resolve Them

A trust serves as a testament to the trustor’s intentions, a vessel carrying their wishes beyond their lifetime. However, there are instances when the authenticity or fairness of a trust is called into question, resulting in a trust contest. Such disputes can become highly complex, straining familial relationships and creating legal hurdles. This blog post aims to delve into the world of trust contests, explore the common reasons behind such disputes, and shed light on strategies for their resolution.

Trust Contests: An Overview

A trust contest is a legal challenge to the validity of a trust or its individual terms. This dispute is usually brought by a beneficiary who feels wronged by the contents of the trust or suspects foul play in its creation or management.

Causes of Trust Contests

Lack of Capacity

The trustor must have the mental capacity to understand the nature and implications of their actions when creating a trust. If a beneficiary believes the trustor lacked this capacity due to illness or other factors, they may contest the trust.

Undue Influence

If a beneficiary suspects that the trustor was coerced or manipulated into creating the trust or specific terms within it, they may bring a trust contest on the grounds of undue influence.

Fraud or Forgery

If there’s evidence to suggest that the trust documents were forged or that the trustor was deceived into creating the trust, a trust contest can be brought on the grounds of fraud.

Resolving Trust Contests


In many cases, trust disputes can be resolved through mediation. This process involves a neutral third party who helps the contesting parties negotiate a resolution. Mediation can be a less costly and less contentious alternative to going to court.


If mediation is unsuccessful or inappropriate given the circumstances, the dispute may need to be resolved through litigation. This involves taking the case to court, where a judge will make a determination based on the evidence presented.

Settlement Agreements

In some cases, the parties may reach a settlement agreement outside of court. This involves negotiation between the parties (often with the help of their attorneys), resulting in a mutually agreed-upon resolution.


Trust contests, with their blend of emotional and legal complexities, can create a significant strain on all parties involved. However, understanding the common causes of these disputes and the avenues for resolution can provide a roadmap for navigating these challenging circumstances.

Remember, trust contests are not just about the intricacies of trusts and legalities; they also involve real people, relationships, and emotions. As such, having an experienced probate attorney by your side can make all the difference. They can provide the legal guidance you need while also providing support during a potentially stressful and emotional time, ultimately helping to untie the knots of the dispute and move toward a resolution that respects the true intentions of the trustor.