Trust litigation deals with conflicts that emerge from the creation, administration, or execution of trusts. A trust is a legal arrangement where someone is responsible for managing assets for the benefit of another. This would be a trustee and the trust’s beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the execution of a trust is not always simple. Sometimes, major disagreements and disputes can surface, requiring the court to get involved and remedy the situation. Having a better understanding of what the trust litigation process looks like can help one avoid conflicts or navigate them if they do arise.
There are a ton of different reasons why individuals might find themselves in litigation over a trust. Some of the most common reasons include:
The process of engaging in trust litigation follows a standard sequence:
A: Yes, there are certain circumstances where a trustee would be able to keep money from a beneficiary. However, there needs to be a justification other than some personal reasons. For example, if the beneficiary has not yet met the conditions laid out within the trust to receive assets, the trustee can withhold them until the conditions are met. This is a legitimate reason. A trustee could not, however, withhold a trust’s execution simply because they had a disagreement with the beneficiary outside the context of this trust.
A: There is no universal time period for when a beneficiary is guaranteed to receive trust funds. Different factors can affect the timeline, such as:
Generally, a straightforward trust that has not been contested will only take a few months to complete. More complex trusts with a ton of different assets can really extend that timeframe. It’s crucial for the trustee and beneficiary to prioritize open communication to ensure that everyone is aligned on the timeline.
A: A trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of all beneficiaries they represent. Within this responsibility, they must address all concerns raised by beneficiaries and keep them informed throughout the entire process of the trust’s administration. If a trustee intentionally ignores any inquiries or concerns from a beneficiary, that can be considered a breach of their fiduciary duty. This could result in trust litigation, which would significantly delay how quickly the beneficiaries receive the assets and funds they are looking for.
A: After the death of the settler who created the trust, the assets identified within the trust are now open to be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with its terms and conditions. The trustee is first responsible for ensuring that any outstanding debts or taxes owed are taken care of. They also need to check in with all the beneficiaries and ensure that everyone is comfortable with the proceedings and see if they have any concerns. The assets within the trust can be distributed either all at once or staggered over time, depending on the instructions within the trust. Beneficiaries have the right to be informed immediately of any delays or complications that may arise throughout the process that would prevent them from receiving the assets or funds they are expecting.
If you are facing trust administration disputes and are looking for legal counsel to assist, contact us at Ross Law Group, APC, today. We are very familiar with the trust administration process and have the skills required to authenticate a trust’s validity and ensure that it is distributed as intended.