Whether you’re a trustee facing a dispute over trust assets or an heir seeking to enforce their inheritance rights, you need a skilled and reliable trust litigation attorney. Here are some tips to help you choose the proper case.
Trust disputes can arise in various ways, including will and trust contests, undue influence, capacity, co-mingling of assets, and contested accountings.
The heirs and beneficiaries of trusts sometimes have differing views on the type of investments, timing of disbursements, accounting procedures used, or administrative decisions made by trustees. This can lead to a lawsuit where the trustee is accused of breaching fiduciary duty and taking inappropriate advantage of the trust creator to gain profit privately. A trust litigation attorney can help the trustee defend against frivolous claims.
The trust provisions may be vague, leading to a lawsuit to interpret them. Beneficiaries and family members often challenge the beneficiary designations, claiming that the person who died was tricked into signing or did not understand what they were doing. Trust litigation attorneys provide a strong defense against those claims.
Trustees are also sometimes accused of stealing funds or property from the trust. A trustee litigation lawyer helps the trustee defend themselves against allegations of wrongdoing and can assist with an accounting proceeding to obtain a formal report on how the trust is being administered.
Other daily trust litigation matters include contested kinship proceedings, wrongful death recovery, creditor claims, charitable pledge disputes, disputed spousal rights of election (recapturing property the decedent transferred to someone else before their death), partition actions, and alleged undue influence. Some of these types of litigation require the participation of expert witnesses, which can involve a lot of time and expense for both sides. An experienced New York trust litigation lawyer can help the parties reach a reasonable settlement outside court.
The decision to hire a trust litigation attorney may depend on their fee structure, which can be hourly or contingency-based. A contingency fee means you don’t pay upfront legal fees but only get paid once your case ends in a verdict or settlement. During your first meeting with an estate litigation attorney, discussing the lawyer’s fee structure and how it may apply to your situation is essential.
Understanding the types of cases your prospective attorney will handle is also helpful. For example, many commercial litigation attorneys specialize in trust litigation involving allegations of self-dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, and unequal distribution of assets among beneficiaries.
For instance, when a trustee violates their fiduciary duties by engaging in self-dealing or making bad investments, they can be held liable for damages incurred by the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can also file claims against a trustee for failing to provide them with accounting as the law requires.
This week’s blog post highlights a recent Ohio court decision in which the judge awarded beneficiary legal fees against a trustee. Determining to award costs against a trustee is at the court’s discretion and often depends on several factors, including whether the lawsuit was filed in good faith.
When a dispute arises over the terms of a trust or its distribution of assets, it can be incredibly challenging to resolve. A reputable trust litigation attorney is often necessary to protect your rights and help you achieve a favorable resolution as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Various issues, including trustee misconduct and mismanagement of trust assets, can cause a legal dispute involving a trust. A skilled trustee litigation lawyer is equipped to investigate allegations of breaches of fiduciary duty, self-dealing, and concealment to determine the truth behind these claims. They will also defend trustees against frivolous lawsuits from beneficiaries who feel they have not received the inheritance they are entitled to.
In some cases, beneficiaries may believe that a trustee has violated their fiduciary duties by not providing adequate accounting information or making decisions that do not per the grantor’s wishes. In these instances, a trust litigation lawyer can file a cy pres petition to correct the issue and ensure all parties receive what they are entitled to under the law.
Surviving spouses and children are often entitled to a share of their deceased loved one’s estate even if they were not named beneficiaries in the trust. To enforce their inheritance rights, a trust attorney can represent heirs in disputes with other beneficiaries, trustees, and third parties. They can also assist in resolving disputes over community property and trust inheritance agreements that need to be formally documented.
Trusts are one of the most common methods for people to keep their property out of probate and under the management of someone they trust. But even though most trustees follow their fiduciary duties, there are times when disagreements between the trustee and beneficiaries arise. A skilled trust litigation attorney can help you through the process, defend your rights, and provide insightful legal advice.
Most of the time, trust disputes occur because of a lack of communication. Beneficiaries might feel the trustee needs to be more transparent about what is happening with the estate and their property, or they might think the trustee is taking advantage of them.
When this happens, it is essential that the attorney you choose can communicate clearly with you and your other party. This is particularly true if your case involves a deposition requiring you to answer questions under oath. Your attorney should be able to explain the deposition process and help you prepare for it so that you can object when necessary.
In addition to preparing you for your deposition, your trusted trust litigation attorney should be able to explain the importance of defending yourself against frivolous claims made by other parties in the case. A good defense strategy can protect your assets and savings from unnecessary litigation. Your attorney should also be able to provide you with an estimated timeline for how long your case will take to resolve.