Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Can You Contest a Trust in Arkansas?

Trust and Estate Planning Attorneys

There are a number of reasons why someone would want to contest an estate planning document such as a trust or a will. Many times, it will be a family member or friend who was surprised by not receiving a particular inheritance. Some may honestly believe a mistake was made and others may only hope that a mistake was made. Either way, this person may seek to contest the estate planning document in the hopes that either all or part of the document will be invalidated.

Contesting a Trust in Arkansas

Yes, just like a will, you can contest a trust in Arkansas. You must file a petition with the court requesting either that a provision of the trust document is stricken, or that the entire document be invalidated. It is a difficult thing to be accomplished. Courts strive to honor the true intentions of the deceased, the trustor who created the trust. The trust document will stand unless sufficient evidence is given to support a legally legitimate reason to have it invalidated.

A trust will not be invalidated unless something such as undue influence or coercion can be shown. A court will also invalidate the trust document if it can be shown that the trustor lacked mental capacity at the time the trust was formed. To show that a trustor lacked mental capacity, was the victim of undue influence, the victim of coercion, or a combination of more than one of these things, a substantial amount of evidence showing the mental state of the trustor and the detrimental forces to which he or she was exposed to at the time the trust was executed must be provided. This is not only extremely difficult but it requires that a very high standard be met.

In some cases, there are other barriers to contesting a trust. Arkansas is a state that recognizes a “no contest” clause in a trust, unless a person can prove that the contest is based on good faith. The “no contest” clause will state that if any beneficiary challenges the trust or any trust terms, that person is automatically disinherited. It is a way to try and deter trust contests and has proven to be very effective.

Usually, only something such as a person seeking the invalidation of a trust provision or invalidation of the entire trust document will trigger the repercussions of a “no contest” clause. If a person seeks to have the terms of the trust interpreted by the court or to ascertain whether or not a challenge would be in violation of the no-contest clause, then it is unlikely to result in the person being automatically disinherited.

Trust and Estate Administration Attorneys

If you have any questions regarding the terms or enforcement of the terms of a trust, the knowledgeable attorneys at Hyden, Miron & Foster are here to help. We provide trusted legal counsel on a wide range of matters involving trusts and estates. Contact us today.

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