There are a number of different ways in which a person can dispose of assets after death. Creating a Last Will and Testament is a traditional vehicle for a person to transfer his estate to estate beneficiaries. A Will controls all assets that are owned by a decedent in his individual name at the time of death. This document can provide details regarding the amounts and the manner of bequests.
Another possible estate planning document is a Living Trust or Revocable Trust. This trust is created during a person’s lifetime and assets are transferred into the trust during the life of the Grantor. When a person dies with a Revocable Trust, the successor or remaining trustee distributes or holds the trust fund in accordance with the terms of the trust. However, unlike a Will, which needs to be filed with the Court for probate, there is no public record of the trust. As a result, potential beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate cannot immediately see whether they were named in the trust. Also, it is difficult to determine whether the trust was created or funded under circumstances that may involve undue influence or other wrongful acts. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published numerous articles concerning Living or Revocable Trusts.
A person who has questions regarding the validity of a lifetime trust can commence litigation to void the trust. There are possible proceedings whereby an estate fiduciary, such as executor or administrator, can investigate the circumstances under which the trust was put into place. It is not uncommon to see trust litigation especially when the terms of the trust document are different from a Last Will that was previously signed by the decedent.