Many Rochester, New York residents may have heard horror stories about families who go through long waits and a lot of hassle during the probate process and be told that they need a trust in order to “avoid probate.”
While it is true that having a trust cuts out much of the routine probate process, like the process of admitting a valid will in to court, many probate horror stories actually stem from situations in which there is a will contest or other serious probate dispute between family members or between family and a third party, like the taxing authority.
In this respect, it is important to remember that trusts, which are often spoken highly of as ways to “avoid probate,” can be the subject of estate litigation just as much as an estate that relied only on a will.
Angry family members can challenge the validity of a trust document, and they can also challenge the actions or omissions of the person acting as trustee. Family members can also raise disputes about what a particular term in the trust really means or what should be done if a term of the trust can longer realistically be enforced. Finally, just as in probate cases, there can be disputes over the value of property held in the trust.
Whether a trust is right for a particular Rochester, New York, family really depends heavily on their facts and circumstances. In any event, though, a family that chooses to use a trust for estate planning or, alternatively, who is working through administering a trust after the death of a loved one, should be aware that litigation is possible.