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By: Scott Grossman on April 30th, 2018

Trust litigation can’t be won because your parent did something dumb

This article explains the difficulty of winning a trust litigation case when the testator made a foolish mistake before passing away.

You can’t win a trust litigation case because your parent did something dumb. Parents, if you really want to screw up your trust and make sure that your children have a reason to fight after you are dead then make sure you title your property in joint tenancy instead of your revocable living trust. This works particularly well for people who are in their second, or later, marriages.

How A Foolish Mistake Could Happen While Creating A Trust

A grieving son contacted me because he couldn’t understand why it was his father’s second wife’s niece who inherited all of his property. As he explained things to me, his father remarried and created a revocable living trust in which to held all of his property. The trust was a typical A-B trust. As expected, his father died before his second wife.

The second wife was a decent person and she tried to carry out the terms of the trust. She began the process to fund the two subtrusts after her husband’s death. Unfortunately, her health rapidly declined after her husband’s death and she was never able to complete the process of funding the two subtrusts. In fact, before her death, she realized her late husband had taken a large bank account out of the trust and retitled it so that he held it with her as joint tenants. She recognized that he intended for this bank account to be part of the trust and she wanted to honor her husband’s wishes. She even wrote a letter to the attorney helping her fund the two subtrusts. In the letter, she said the bank account should go into one of the subtrusts.

The second wife died before this was done. Therefore, the large bank account never made its way back into the trust. The second wife never had any children. Her niece was appointed the successor trustee of the trust. The second wife’s niece was very “helpful” to her aunt while she was still alive. In order to “help” her aunt, the niece convinced her to put her on bank account as a joint tenant. When her aunt died, the niece was in complete control. The niece inherited the bank account as the surviving joint tenant.

The father’s son simply couldn’t believe what he found out. His father had created a trust, funded the trust, mistakenly changed title to the account, his father’s second wife acknowledged the mistake that had been made, and still he wasn’t going to get his intended inheritance. Unfortunately, his father made a mistake, and then his father’s wife compounded that mistake. Unlike most cases that come to me for trust litigation, this one didn’t have an obvious bad guy. All the mistakes this man’s father made, he made on his own. While there are lots of legitimate reasons to begin trust litigation, you just can’t win because someone made stupid mistakes. If you need help winning your trust litigation, call us today. We are here to help. You can also request our free book Winning the Inheritance Battle for more information.