A trust is an arrangement that instructs another person (your trustee) to take care of your finances and property. The law firm of Rick Dane Moore and Associates has over thirty years’ experience and has litigated many trust contests and cases where a trustee acted inappropriately. We know how to win these cases. The most important aspect in winning is thoroughness in preparation.
Also, unfortunately, Mr. Moore has personal experience in these kinds of cases and was involved in two painful and separate court contests involving his mother’s and aunt’s estates. We know that these cases can be painful and full of stress as they involve relatives and tend to become very emotional.
We are here to help you get through this difficult time with as little stress as possible, and to help everyone to move on with their lives. In matters involving contested trusts or breaches of trust, it is best to get the case finished as quickly as possible, and we are ready and able to help you to do just that.
Why Would Someone Contest a Trust?
A trust can be contested by a person who believes he or she should have been included in the trust is but is left out by accident or mistake. For example, if a man forgot to include his child from a first marriage when he set up his trusts, then that child can contest the trust and might be entitled to a share of the man’s estate or to some control over the assets.
A trust can be contested and dissolved by the Court if there is proof that the person was incapacitated mentally at the time the trust was drafted, if the person had a known mental illness or was suffering from a degenerative or other disease that affects cognitive abilities. Also, if any person believes that the trust was created while the person who created it was being threatened or coerced, a trust can be dissolved by the Court
Trusts can be contested if they were executed incorrectly or if the person serving as a witness or notary for the trust is also named as a beneficiary.
A trust can be revoked at any time by the person who created the trust, as long as that person is still alive and still sane and competent. There is nothing you can do if the person who created the trust decides that she no longer wants the trust to exist, or if she wants to appoint a new trustee or designate different beneficiaries.
A trust may also be revoked by a Court if the Court finds that a trustee has breached the trust.
What Is Breach of Trust?
Breach of trust is when one party, usually the appointed trustee, is acting in a way that goes against the terms of the trust or against the Oklahoma Trust Act. Some examples of breaches of trust include selling trust property but not putting the money back into the trust, selling trust property on purpose for a value less than its appraised value, using money from the trust for the trustee’s own benefit, taking money out of trust funds without the permission of the beneficiary or trust creator, and failing to provide for the care of beneficiaries or trust creator.
Under Oklahoma law, trustees also have a duty to account to the trust creator and to beneficiaries of the trust, and failing to account for money spent or used or invested is considered a breach of trust.
If a trustee is found in breach of trust, his power as trustee will be revoked, and he will often also be required to pay back any money that he took or that was lost from the trust as the result of his actions.
What should I do to prepare for an appointment?
First, it is important to get together all former versions of any trust documents, and the most current versions available. Also, please bring any medical records because they are important in determining the trust creator’s mental and emotional ability to make a valid trust. You will need to bring all of these things with you to your first meeting with us at our office. This is often the issue in most contested trust cases: did this person have the ability to make a trust, and should the trust have been in effect at the time? Medical records and copies of the previous versions of the trust help us and the Court to determine this. If you have records that you can use to prove a trustee’s breach of trust, by using money for his own good instead of the good of the trust, or by selling property that he wasn’t allowed to sell, then bring those documents to your meeting with us as well.
You should also write a brief narrative describing who, what, when, where and why things happened. Take your time, and use as many details as you can remember. Include the names of any witnesses you can remember, and their contact information if you have it. This will help frame the theory of the case and will help your lawyer save you time and money in legal fees. It will also give us a place to start in explaining your options to you and in deciding how to go forward with your claim. There are different remedies available for breaches of trust or for contesting a trust, and we will need as much information as possible so that we can explain your best option to you.
We understand that dealing with a court case is the last thing you want to do, and we will work hard to relieve as much of the stress as we can as well as getting results that are fair. We are dedicated to ensuring that the trust creator’s true intentions are followed, and to making sure that the trustee who was appointed is following the law and the intention of the trust creator in taking care of the people who were meant to benefit from the trust.
Why Should I hire Your Firm?
Trust documents are often long and complex, and the law on trusts is sometimes difficult to understand. We have over thirty years of experience in reviewing and enforcing trusts and in overseeing or reviewing the actions of trustees to be sure that they are acting in the way they are required by law to act.
Every attorney in our firm is a lawyer licensed by the Oklahoma State Bar Association. We work together, so when you hire our firm, you get a whole legal team, not just one attorney representing you. This helps us to be sure that our work is of the highest quality, but also keeps costs down because working together ensures that we don’t have to redo our work.
We offer a free telephone consultation for fifteen minutes, and when you call this firm to discuss your case with us, you will be talking to an attorney from the minute someone answers the phone. We do not screen our calls or make our clients or prospective clients explain their cases to secretaries before they get to talk to us. Our firm is structured to bring the best possible results and value to our clients.