Estate and Trust Litigation: Protecting Your Rights Regarding A Loved One’s Estate/ Trust

Estate and Trust Litigation is decidedly different than a Probate dispute in that the legal action is filed and heard in Circuit Court rather than Probate Court. Estate and Trust Litigation interrupts the Probate process in order to determine the resolution of the Circuit Court litigation.

“I have been a practicing attorney since 1990, and have always been involved with litigation. I have been focused on Estate and Trust Litigation for well more than a decade. That focus, and my 29 years of litigation experience, separates me from other lawyers who provide Probate services.”
— Attorney Key Schoen

Estate Litigation covers various topics. The most common is an action contesting the Decedent’s Will. In order to file a Will contest in Kentucky, a person must be a beneficiary named in a prior Will, or someone who would stand to benefit if there was no Will related to the Decedent (spouse, child, sibling, etc.). There are a number of reasons why a Will may be contested, including:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity — A Will was signed and the testator did not understand the consequences of his or her actions; did not clearly understand the value of his or her assets; or was not capable of making reasoned decisions due to dementia, senility, medication or other causes.
  • Manipulation or undue influence — The testator was improperly influenced and/or coerced into signing the Will while in a weakened state mentally or physically by a benefactor. There are numerous signs or “badges” of undue influence that the law in Kentucky recognizes as indicators of “undue influence”.
  • Fraud — The testator was misled or tricked into signing a Will through false representation or misleading information.
  • Forged signature — Someone other than the testator forged the testator’s signature on a Will.

Cause For Concern Is Not Always Evident

Often, individuals suspect something is not right about a Will yet they are hesitant to take action because they do not understand the laws in this area, or do not want to be cast in a negative light before their relatives. The best step is to enlist the services of an experienced Will contest lawyer who can review the situation and tell you if further action is appropriate or necessary. To be clear, Key Schoen tells clients the truth as he understands it, and will often tell persons they should not pursue legal action and/ or if they should hire another attorney.

Key Schoen Law in Louisville has represented clients in Will contests, on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants, for more than 19 years. Whether representing a plaintiff who is challenging a Will, or a defendant who is protecting the Will in question, Key Schoen is at his best in these cases. This is a unique area of the law that requires a thorough understanding of the complexities involved. The attorney you select will affect the outcome of your case.

A Strong Advocate In Trust Litigation

Trust documents can be contested for the same reasons a Will can be contested. That is, assuming a person has standing, Trust documents can be contested and ultimately determined to be found invalid for reasons of:

  • Mental incompetence
  • Undue influence
  • Fraud
  • Forgery

Unlike Wills, which are administered through the public Probate court process and are more easily examined, Trusts, by contrast, are frequently used to avoid Probate. This makes it more difficult as a beneficiary to determine whether you are being treated fairly or if the decedent’s assets have been properly managed.

In 2014, Kentucky enacted the “Uniform Trust Code”.  This new law provided beneficiaries more plain procedural and substantive rights in trusts. In other words, the law caught up with abuses by trustees because of the secrecy the law had effectively previously allowed.  Moreover, the law provides more opportunity to address trust concerns in an economical manner. That is, trust issues can be thoroughly addressed in Probate Court – as opposed to more costly Circuit Court.  This is a significant development in the law, and to the benefit to trust beneficiaries!

If you have reason to believe that a Trustee has mismanaged funds or is not adhering to the terms of the person(s) who created the Trust, it may be time to hire an attorney. Key Schoen represents clients in trust matters whether in Probate Court or Circuit Court.

Key Schoen represents clients in a wide range of trust matters, including:

  • Breach of fiduciary duties
  • Accounting and investment errors/ abuses
  • Undue influence and/or mental incompetency claims
  • Suspension or removal of fiduciaries

Key Schoen Is Trial-Tested

Like all litigation, Estate/Trust litigation can be costly and time-consuming endeavors. At Key Schoen Law, we attempt to resolve matters without the need to go to trial in order to minimize the emotional toll and the financial costs. However, if a fair agreement cannot be reached, Key Schoen’s extensive trial experience provides his clients with someone who is at his best in front of a jury.

Again, almost all estate lawyers do not have a jury trial background. Besides his 29 years of litigation experience, Key Schoen’s trial (and Appellate) successes are undeniable.

Because of the confidentiality afforded to Trustees, it may be difficult for you to determine if you have a legitimate legal problem. If you would like to meet with Key Schoen or schedule a telephone consultation, please fill out the contact form and email, or call Key Schoen law to schedule same.

Get Advice on The Best Step to Take Next

In order to speak with Key Schoen, call or email to schedule a meeting or a telephone consultation. Mr. Schoen can answer your questions regarding your Trust and/ or Estate matters, and particularly litigation. Again, Key Schoen will be frank about whether you should pursue legal action and is well known to tell potential clients that they should not hire him or any other attorney. Of course, he will provide his best insight in advising you what your next step should be.