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What happens if you believe your father's living trust fund was falsely notarized and he is now deceased?

Arkadelphia, AR |

my father passed away and had a living trust...well somehow the trust managed to get notary signatures from ppl out of town but was notarized by a person here in town....all the assets are given to his sister and im not allowed to get my assets.....everything was done in her hometown....she has full access to everything.. i believe there is something not right...also my dad wasnt in good state to sign document...he had cataracts...can i file a lawsuit ..does this trust fund sound fishy? it has my aunts name all over it shes always been money hungry

it even said in the trust that he gave her the apartment complex he owned which wouldn t make sense because he bought her out a long time ago says the document was notarized in a town four hours away which my father never went to...

Attorney Answers 4


You should consult with an experienced trusts and estates litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to help you. Your options may depend on how long ago your father died, and what has transpired since then. But in general, if a trust was fraudulently obtained, if the signature was not your fathers, or if there was undue influence over him in getting him to sign the documents, there are grounds to challenge and set aside the trust. Trust challenges can be expensive, however, and it can be difficult to prove. Your best bet is to consult with an experienced trust and estates attorney who has a litigation practice to help you assess the facts and your possible claims, so that you will know your options and can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

This general response is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

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It would be quite unusual for a parent to disinherit a child in favor of a sibling, so on that basis I understand why you think this is fishy. On the other hand, it is very difficult--and expensive--to mount a challenge against a Will or Trust that appears on its face to be valid.

The estate must be large enough to justify the challenge, which probably means $200,000 or more.

If your father was not legally competent to sign the documents he signed, or if he was under the "undue influence" of your aunt at the time of signing, then what he signed would not be valid. The hard part is proving it.

You need to find a highly skilled estate attorney who is willing to engage in litigation. Many probate attorneys will not handle probate lawsuits. I know a couple very good lawyers in Little Rock with state-wide practices, so perhaps can assist you with a referral if you do not know of a properly skilled attorney in or near Arkadelphia.

Mr. Huddleston is an Ohio-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, with offices in Columbus and Dayton, serving client families throughout Ohio. He may be contacted directly by phone toll-free at 888.488.7878 or by email CLH@HUDDLAW.COM. Mr. Huddleston responds to Avvo questions as a public service to help educate and provide general guidance to questioners, but his responses are not legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Both of the prior responses have given you good advice, laying out some of the concerns. There is not enough information given to determine if this is "fishy" or not. You may not have enough evidence to know whether you have a good potential case or not. If there is a lot of money involved, and particularly if your father was in a questionable state, when the documents were signed, you may have a chance of overturning things and or at least making things so difficult and expensive for your aunt that she will settle, in order to get you to go away. (Cataracts are not likely to be an issue. Blindness could be. Mental incapacity definitely would be.)

You do not say if you have a copy of the trust, but I am assuming you do, based on your comment about the signatures. I do not think you will have ANY luck overturning the documents based on signature issues, unless you can prove there was fraud involved, which is extremely difficult. You do not say if the documents were prepared by an attorney. I am assuming they were, because the estate plan sounds like it is fairly complex. If so, the attorney may testify against you, which is something you would need to be prepared for.

You will need a very skilled probate litigator to assist you with this. Attorneys like that come with a very well-deserved high billing rate.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

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I might suggest ascertaining whether the notaries were bonded and making a claim on the bond.

The foregoing is not legal advice nor is it in any manner whatsoever meant to create or impute an attorney/client relationship.

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