It can be difficult to deal with legal problems while you are still grieving the loss of your family member. A trust litigation lawyer can help you determine the best strategy to pursue so you can protect your legal interests. Trust administration and will contests are two of the most common forms of trust litigation. However, trust modifications and trustee removal actions also occur often when a party wishes to modify a trust.
The Basics of Trust Litigation
A trust is a legal instrument. Typically, a settlor creates the trust by transferring assets to a trustee to act as a fiduciary for beneficiaries. The trust beneficiaries are the individuals or entities who benefit from the trust. The trust corpus is composed of all the assets in the trust, and these assets may include different items such as securities, deeds to real property, and personal property.
Trusts are private and are not subject to probate. A settlor can keep the contents of the trust private, whereas a will is considered public record once it is probated. Trust litigation occurs when a party disputes some aspect of the trust.
Common Issues in Trust Litigation Cases
The following are common issues which arise in trust litigation cases:
- Petitions for instructions
- Disputes between two trustees who each manage the trust
- Removal of a trustee
- Trust accounting disputes
- Breach of fiduciary duty
This is not an exhaustive list of subjects commonly associated with trust litigation. However, these are the most frequently encountered subject areas in trust litigation.
The Function of a Trust Litigation Lawyer
Trust litigation lawyers help parties resolve conflicts. It is possible for trust litigation to occur long after the settlor has died. The beneficiaries may still be minors at the time the litigation begins. These issues make trust litigation particularly complex, and most practitioners have a keen eye for detail and work tirelessly scrutinizing the language contained in estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, and codicils.
Documentary evidence is essential to every trust litigation case. A skilled trust litigation attorney will need to obtain as much evidence as possible regarding the legal claims at the center of the trust litigation.
It Can Take A Long Amount of Time to Contest a Trust
Contesting a trust is a complicated process. It generally takes between twelve and twenty-four months to contest a trust. Most parties who initiate trust contest proceedings have to wait a year for any final resolution of the trust litigation. Therefore, individuals who are interested in contesting a trust can benefit from obtaining a trust litigation lawyer.
Trust Litigation is a Highly Specialized Practice Area
Trust litigation is one of the most convoluted areas of law. Individuals who become experts in this particular practice area spend decades honing their craft. Each trust litigation case requires diligence and persistence. Sometimes it can be difficult for family members to understand why trust litigation takes so long. One general principle to keep in mind is that the settlor has often passed away by the time a party initiates trust litigation. Therefore, the court and the parties want to do everything within their power to abide by the intent of the settlor.