Can There Be Litigation When There Is A Trust?
Yes, there can be litigation even when there is a trust. The people who are the heirs-at-law or even beneficiaries under a trust may bring litigation to determine whether the trust document was signed by the deceased person at a time that the person had capacity to enter into such an agreement. In Oklahoma, a trust is considered to be a contract. Therefore, the person executing the trust must have sufficient capacity to enter into a contract. If the trustor was suffering from the effects of disease or even under the influence of serious medication when the trust was signed, it is reasonably possible that a dissatisfied person could bring litigation in an attempt to set aside that trust document.
In the event that any of the decedent’s creditors will not be paid in full, it is highly likely that they will want to bring litigation against the trustee and the trust to insist that their claims should be paid in full before the distribution to another. There can also be litigation concerning whether the trustor was under the undue influence of another person. If a new boyfriend or girlfriend has caused the trustor to change his or her final affairs to benefit the new friend to the detriment of the family members, it would not be surprising to see the family members bring litigation.
Do I Need An Attorney For Probate Or Trust Litigation?
Yes, you absolutely need an attorney for such litigation. Litigation is generally very complex and time-consuming. If you do not know the rules of the game there is almost no chance that you are going to prevail without an attorney. Generally speaking, only attorneys have taken the years of practice and study necessary to truly know the rules of litigation and how to apply them successfully. So yes, you absolutely do need an attorney if you are going to be involved in probate or trust litigation.
Can A Decision Made By The Probate Court Judge Be Appealed?
Yes, a decision by the probate court can be appealed. In Oklahoma, appeals are made from the probate court directly to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Almost always the Supreme Court will send the appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals for consideration. Occasionally the Supreme Court will review the decision made by the Court of Civil Appeals and will reconsider the matter anew. Occasionally, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will retain an appeal from the very beginning. When that happens, there is only one appeal possible. Whether the Court of Civil Appeals or the Oklahoma Supreme Court reviews the case, the court can be expected to give great weight to the trial court’s determination of the facts because the trial judge is the one who heard and saw the witnesses. The trial judge’s perception of the witnesses’ believability is presumed to be very important and will be highly persuasive to the appellate court and its judges.
Occasionally, but not often, the trial court judge makes a mistake of law. The Oklahoma appellate court gives decisions of law complete review without giving great weight to the trial court’s decision. This is called a review de novo or from the beginning.
For more information on Litigation Of A Trust In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.
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