Why Should I Hire an El Dorado County Trust Litigation Attorney?
When a person creates a trust, they generally do so with the intention of making their final wishes as clear as possible when it comes to distribution of their remaining assets and property. For a trust to qualify as legally enforceable, it must include legal provisions, and the trustor must have created it willingly while of sound mind. An El Dorado County trust litigation lawyer can be invaluable in the event someone raises a dispute against your loved one’s trust. They may claim that it was produced fraudulently, includes unconscionable provisions, or that the trustor created it under duress. Ultimately, there are many reasons why a person may file a dispute against your loved one’s trust if they have any legal interest in the estate in question.
An El Dorado County trust litigation attorney can help you navigate issues like these with greater confidence. Your legal team will review the trust in question and examine the dispute filed against it to determine your best approach to the situation. Unfortunately, due to the fact that trusts are becoming more common choices in the US, there are many people assigned as executors or trustees who are not entirely qualified or capable of discharging their duties without error. When errors in trust administration occur, the chance of trust litigation happening increases dramatically.
How Does a Trust Work?
At the most basic level, a trust is a legal agreement between three parties: the trustor, or creator of the trust, the trustee, or the personal representative designated by the trustor to handle administration of their trust, and the beneficiaries named in the trust. In some cases, these parties may overlap. When the trustor dies, ownership of the trust falls to the trustee, and they have the legal duty of following the trustor’s provisions for trust administration included in the trust. They must do so faithfully and to the best of their ability. If a named trustee is unable or unwilling to fulfill these duties, the trust may include instructions for this situation, such as a secondary choice of trustee. Whoever ultimately acts as the trustee then assumes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust.
What Can an El Dorado County Trust Litigation Attorney Do for Me?
The attorneys at McCunn Law provide El Dorado County clients with a wide range of trust-related legal services. We understand that trust administration can be a delicate situation for any group of beneficiaries. Additionally, related beneficiaries may not always agree with one another or the actions of a trustee despite the fact that they may be family.
Your El Dorado County trust litigation lawyer can help you with many aspects of trust administration, from the creation of a new trust to modification of an existing revocable trust to providing legal counsel during a trust administration dispute. At McCunn Law, we understand that the loss of a loved one can be devastating, and coupling this event with financial issues related to trust administration can be especially difficult for the family members involved in the situation. Our goal is to guide you through this situation as expeditiously as possible.
How Do Trust Disputes Happen?
The trust will typically include clear rules for the trustee’s handling of the trust. Additionally, the trust should also contain language that provides a measure of liability protection for the trustee, meaning that if a trustee makes an honest mistake in the administration of the trust, the trustee is not personally liable so long as they make a legitimate effort to correct the mistake. Most trust litigation arises when a trustee knowingly mishandles the trust, such as paying themselves too much out of the trust’s assets or misusing funds beyond their assigned intended uses. If this occurs, any beneficiary has the right to file a claim against the trustee for breach of fiduciary duty.
Most trusts will require their designated trustees to provide the court with regular reports of all their account-related activity in handling the trust, such as spending trust funds for approved purposes and distributing assets to beneficiaries as directed by the trust. The trust will typically dictate how often the trustee must file these accounting reports and what details they must include. It is generally a best practice for trustees to be as detailed as possible with their accounting reports to limit uncertainty and suspicion among beneficiaries of the trust. They will want to be sure the trustee is handling the trust appropriately, and these accounting reports are the best way to provide peace of mind.
Trust litigation is likely to arise if a beneficiary feels as though they have been deprived of information or provided false or incomplete information. Trustees can effectively insulate themselves from trust litigation by providing the most complete accountings they can and addressing any raised concerns as fully as possible in a timely manner.
Trust litigation is also likely if a trustee engages in any activity that beneficiaries deem a conflict of interest. This is especially common when a trustee is given authority to run the trustor’s business after their death. It is also possible for claims of conflict of interest to arise when the trustee must sell assets of the trust or performs other duties related to trust administration. Ultimately, if the trustee takes any action that benefits the trustee or their family at the expense of the trust, this could constitute a conflict of interest.
Sometimes a beneficiary will object to the manner in which a trustee handles some aspect of trust administration. In this situation, it is generally best for the trustee to consult with the beneficiary about their concerns. If the beneficiary is insisting the trustee handle the issue in a specific way, it is often in the best interest of the trustee to acquiesce to this request as they hold a fiduciary duty while the beneficiary does not.