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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

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Contested trust illustrates importance of proper estate planning

Nobody wants to think of their estate being in dispute after their death but the reality is that it happens more than most people would like to think. The reason for a dispute can vary and may include the absence of a will or trust. Other common reasons for a will contest can include  changes to wills or trusts very near the time that a person dies, especially if there is a suspicion that the deceased person was not capable of making sound decisions at the time.

A recent New England case illustrates the challenges that can arise in such situations. The estate of a woman who died seven months after altering her then three-year old trust is being contested by four different heirs that were named in the earlier trust but that were either left out of the most recent document or that were still included but noted to receive a lesser amount than previously stated. 

A petition requesting that the now deceased woman’s 2012 trust be set aside alleges that, at the time of signing the document, the woman was unfit to make such decisions. It further asserts that she made revisions to her trust while experiencing undue influence from the newly appointed heir. The estate in question leaves personal property and assets totaling approximately $1.8 million to a single police officer.

Estate planning and estate administration can be complex matters that benefit greatly from the advice and participation of a professional with experience in such matters. If you are considering your own estate planning or have questions about the estate plan of a loved one, it can be in the best interest of all parties to get professional counsel before finalizing any valid will or trust.

Source: Seacoastonline.com, “Lawyer disputing wealthy woman’s estate ‘not in it to settle it’,” Elizabeth Dinan, June 27, 2013

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