If you are a party to a trust, such as the creator, the administrator of the trust, or the beneficiary of the trust, a number of different types of legal issues can occur that would require the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. Researching trustee lawyers near you should be your first step in the event that you believe you have grounds for a trust lawsuit.
Many estate plans in each state include living or irrevocable trust. This allows families to pass assets to the next generation, without having to go through probate or exposing private matters associated with their family to public record.
The increasing use of trust, however, has also led to a corresponding increase in trustee litigation. Trust litigation can occur for a variety of different reasons. Often, such is filed by a beneficiary who believes that the trust administrator has not carried out his or her responsibilities appropriately. Many people are not familiar with what it means to be a beneficiary or a trustee of a trust, and therefore can wind up in complex litigation. It is very important for those people who are involved in litigation to understand their legal rights and to take proactive steps to protect them.
Whether you are a beneficiary who believes that the assets intended for you in a trust have been harmed or not appropriately handled by the trustee, or you are a trustee being accused of malfeasance and other negative actions, it is imperative to get the right support from an experienced trust lawyer near you as soon as possible. Most people start this process by typing "trustee lawyers near me" into Google, to try to find experienced lawyers in their area who have a history of handling complex trust litigation.
Roles of the Trust: Trustee and Beneficiary
Some of the most important components of any trust created for estate planning purposes are the individuals instilled in the key roles. Trusts are legal agreements and documents that involve three parties. The trustor, or grantor, is the person who creates the trust. The trustee is the individual who is responsible for handling the administration of the trust. In the case of a living trust, the grantor and the trustee are the same people. The third parties involved with trust administration are known as beneficiaries. These are the individuals who are entitled to receive compensation or assets from the trust.
A trustee has a fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. This means that the trustee must act in accordance with the terms of the trust and the law so that the beneficiaries are protected. The terms of the trust can also come into question in trustee litigation. The trust can sometimes limit the liability of the trustee, and it is important to read through the specific language inside the trust in order to determine whether or not a trust litigation issue has occurred.
What to Look for in a Trust Lawyer
Once you have typed in something like “trustee lawyers near me,” your next step is to do some research and create a shortlist of the individuals who may be able to help you with your legal case.
A trust litigation attorney is a specialized lawyer, who has extensive experience in this area of the law and who can tell you about previous cases representing beneficiaries or trustees. A trust litigation attorney can be necessary when the complex aspects of distributing property from one generation to another show up in a lawsuit. Many instructions are clearly stated inside a trust, but sometimes there can be questions over the administration or the specific terms of the trust, which require hiring a trust litigation lawyer to assist.
There are many different reasons why a legal challenge to an existing trust can occur. The first of these might have to do with the competency and mental capacity of the person who created the trust. In this situation, a beneficiary or other interested party would argue that the trust creator did not have the legal authority to do so, but this requires substantial proof to win in court and is one of the most complex aspects of a trust litigation case.
Another claim could be that the creator of the trust was coerced into developing this specific trust or the terms inside it. This usually has to do with “undue influence,” such as claiming that a caregiver convinced an elderly individual to retool the terms of their trust to benefit the caregiver or to deny assets to another family member. In some cases, this could even be classified as financial elder abuse.
One of the most common types of trustee lawsuits is known as “breach of fiduciary responsibilities.” When it is alleged that the trustee has mishandled assets, refuses to cooperate with providing an accounting, or other aspects. All of this can become the basis of a trust litigation lawsuit. A trust litigation lawyer should have experience handling cases like this before, in your local area and in your state, and should be able to sit down with you during an initial consultation to discuss some of the most important components of your legal claim.
It can be very difficult to determine your rights and responsibilities when involved in a trust lawsuit, but it is extremely important to have the proper legal guidance, to understand whether or not you have the grounds to pursue a legal case and what is involved in taking on a claim like this. The support of an experienced lawyer can give you answers to the questions that you have and help to prepare you for what can be a very complicated legal case.
If you are the beneficiary of a trust and believe that a trustee or other fiduciary has mishandled this situation and has failed to protect your interest and serve their fiduciary duty, you need to share this information with a dedicated and knowledgeable lawyer who can provide you with further context about this situation and give you action steps for what to consider next. It can be very overwhelming to broach this subject on your own and to work through these complicated steps, but knowing that you have retained a lawyer who has managed many situations like this before can make a big difference.