Trust Litigation Lawyers in Lenoir County Helping You Resolve Trust Disputes
A trust is a legal arrangement that allows assets and property to be held and managed by a third party. In most cases, trusts are written lawfully and remain legally binding, even after the trustor, or the creator of the trust, passes away. However, if the trust is old, written poorly, or lacks liquid assets, disputes may arise, impacting how beneficiaries receive their benefits over time.
Fortunately, with the help of a trust litigation attorney, you can settle disputes effectively to receive or distribute benefits from the trust as soon as possible. Our team at Swindell Law Firm, PC, has years of experience helping clients navigate trust disputes, whether that means negotiating privately, entering into mediation with a third party, or going into litigation before a judge. If you are having problems with a trust, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact our firm today for a free consultation by calling 252-262-1325.
What is Trust Litigation?
Trust litigation is the process used to settle disputes about a trust. Because trusts are typically used to distribute assets to beneficiaries, disputes can happen if a family member believes the trust has been mishandled or written incorrectly. A trust dispute often arises if an individual believes they should have been a beneficiary and are not one or claims they are entitled to more assets than they are receiving.
If one party believes that the trust has been mishandled, they can file a suit to have the trustee or the manager of the trust removed. Parties can also sue for any money spent on court fees and damages accrued due to the mishandling of funds. During litigation, the trustee responds in court during a court trial before a judge. A trust litigation case can take years to settle, depending on the nature of the dispute. In many instances, the trustee will request that the trust pay for the cost of their defense on the stipulation that they pay the trust back if found in violation.
When Does Trust Litigation Occur?
Trust litigation can happen for a variety of reasons. Many of the reasons boil down to the trustee violating their fiduciary duty. There are some common disputes that our firm sees often.
Trust litigation may happen for the reasons below:
- The trust was created unlawfully by a person without the legal capacity to create a trust.
- The trust is written unlawfully or contains contradictory statements.
- The trustee has engaged in misconduct.
- The trust has issues with asset distribution or accounting.
- The trustor created the trust under undue influence from another party.
- A party wishes to modify or revoke the trust.
- A party wishes to force distributions from the trust.
There are other reasons a trust contest may happen, especially in older trusts or trusts with many assets. If you don’t see your dispute listed above, give our team a call today for a free case review.
What is Estate Litigation?
As you research trust litigation, you may also find information about estate litigation. Estate litigation is similar to trust litigation; however, they are two separate processes that happen at different times. After a loved one passes, family members often look to their estate plan to begin distributing assets and property. An estate plan can contain many documents, the most common of which is a last will and testament. If an individual did not leave an estate plan or a will, then assets are distributed according to state laws.
Unfortunately, disputes can arise when these assets are distributed. Some family members may feel like they were intentionally excluded from the will or that they deserve more assets than they were allocated. In these scenarios, an estate litigation attorney on our team could represent the estate, the executor, or any family members with disputes.
Other issues that may require estate litigation include:
- Allowances for a surviving spouse or children
- Misconduct of an estate executor
- A breach of fiduciary duty
- Life insurance claims
- Beneficiary or heir disputes
Is Litigation the Only Option for Settling Disputes?
While many trust disputes go to court, the litigation process can be time-consuming and expensive. Many trust litigation cases take years to settle, and the process can drain funds from the trust itself during that time period. Because of this, our team will always attempt to resolve disputes outside of court first. We can help you negotiate with family members or beneficiaries in a private meeting first and foremost. If these negotiations do not settle the dispute, mediation with an unbiased third party is the next step. A mediator will attempt to help all parties reach an agreement they are happy with. If those two methods cannot reach a conclusion, then our team will represent you in court before a judge during litigation.
Disputes between family members can become contentious, especially when significant assets or multiple properties are involved. Even if you think you can settle your issues outside of court, having an experienced legal team on your side is always recommended.
How Can a Trust Litigation Lawyer Help Me?
Distributing assets to family members can be a complex process and one that does not always go smoothly. Trust assets are often substantial, so if a trust is mishandled or there is wrongdoing in the execution, disputes can arise. Whether you are a beneficiary, a personal representative of the trust, or a family member of a loved one with a trust, our team can assist you. We will help you settle disputes quickly to avoid draining money from the trust and to get the assets you deserve.