Trust Disputes, What are the type of Trust Disputes
Estate litigation is complex and often emotional when conflict arises between family members grieving the loss of a loved one. Disputes between trustees and beneficiaries or amongst trustees most commonly arise when a concerned party believes the trustee is not fulfilling their duties and obligations. What are the duties and obligations of a trustee, and what can you do as a concerned party?
What is a Trust?
A trust involves a fiduciary relationship where one party hold legal title for the benefit of others, the beneficiaries. In a testamentary trust the testator (person leaving the will) establishes the trust leaving the trustee as owner of the property for the benefit of the recipients of the will, the beneficiaries.
What is the Role of the Executor or Estate Trustee?
Executors or estate trustees are responsible for:
· Collecting the assets of the estate
· Administering the estate
· Calling for creditors to pay any outstanding debts
· Distributing the estate to beneficiaries; and
· Fulfilling other duties as set out in the will
Trustees have a duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, deal with beneficiaries fairly and provide accurate accounting records of the estate.
The executor/trustee must ensure that all beneficiaries, potential beneficiaries, or those with a “financial interest” in the estate are notified of the final distribution of the assets.
Types of Trust Disputes
As mentioned, the most common types of trust dispute involve the mismanagement of a trust by a trustee. This can look like a trustee failing to keep accurate accounts of the property and estate administration or a trustee abusing their power.
Other common trust disputes include:
· Executor compensation
· Disputes between beneficiaries
· Claims of undue influence
· Removal/replacement of trustees/executors
· Will interpretation
Resolving Trust Disputes
When a concerned party believes that an executor or trustee is not fulfilling his or her duties and obligations, a party can challenge the trustee’s management, challenge the trustee’s accounting or request removal or replacement of trustees.
These forms of action can be taken by parties with a financial interest in the estate. To establish a financial interest, a claimant must present sufficient evidence of a “genuine interest”. All parties with a financial interest must be notified of any proceedings or challenges to a will.
Before commencing any form of estate litigation parties should consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes such as mediation to solve estate disputes. ADR offers an opportunity to resolve disputes while preserving relationships and reducing the cost associated with estate litigation.
Whether you are a trustee or beneficiary, our experienced estate lawyers can assist you with any trust dispute. One of our Estate Lawyers can provide you with legal advice on how to proceed to obtain the best outcome for all parties involved. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here to discuss your situation in more detail.