Common Trust Disputes: An Explanatory Guide

The law has its complications, especially when it comes to common trust disputes. Which is why when the law (or an individual) is causing you trouble, there’s a better way to handle trust disputes.

That best way forward is to contact a lawyer and have them work within the bounds of the law for you. In the case of common trust disputes, the process is easier and more likely to succeed. Usually, hiring professional negligence solicitors to pursue trust and probate claims (especially a contentious trust) can help.

What is a Common Trust Dispute?

In short, a trust is usually for estates where a person’s assets are considerable. It is, in essence, a better way to:

  • minimise tax, and;
  • protect the estate until it’s time for the assets within the trust to go to its trustees.

A testator can create these trusts before death, or as per their request in a last will and testament.

As you can imagine, the goal of a trust is to minimise complications. But even the best plans do have faults and trust disputes do happen.

For example:

  • if the trust is incorrectly put together;
  • when there are disputes between the trustees and beneficiaries, or;
  • if there is evidence of fraud.

When is a Trust Fraudulent?

A trust can be fraudulent for a variety of reasons. If the trustee is negligent or commits fraud, for example. Or if a trustee ignores a breach of trust committed by a fellow trustee. Negligence almost always will open up a case for fraud against the trust and/or its trustees.

Moreover, it’s generally easy to prove. If a trustee in any way neglects their duty as the trust outlines, they are inherently negligent.

Another example is if the person who creates it lacks the mental capacity or faces coercion into making it. This is similar to any fraud for the last will and testament.

If the settlor, or the person who set up the trust, was given negligent legal or tax advice this could also make the trust fraudulent. This same applies if the trust documents themselves don’t line up with the wishes of the deceased in their will.

Matters of covering the ownership

Trusts can also be used to disguise ownership of estates. This is also a fraudulent activity, one of several common trust disputes scenarios you might encounter.

In short, either fraud can occur to exploit the trust, or fraud can occur because the trust is a result of fraudulent purposes. Amongst common trust disputes, a dispute in trusts occurs when there is either fraud or a suspicion of fraud.

What to Do if You Want to Dispute a Trust?

Instigating family trust disputes can, indeed, be challenging. There is a lot of documentation and people within a trust, to begin with. Moreover, if you suspect fraud it can also be difficult to prove.

Additionally, one area of concern is about what happens as a result of a dispute internally. In short, you may, in fact, want to dispute a trust that’s been unfair to you. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to cause damage to family relationships in the process.

Bringing family members into litigation can hurt feelings, and ruin relationships. That is why when you want to contest a trust you need trust dispute solicitors who can handle the process delicately. You will also want to choose professionals who are well versed in the law and changes that have been made over the years.

How to act in the best interest

There are many elements to keep in mind, overall, when it comes to trust disputes. We reveal a few of these below, coupled with a short explanation of what they can mean to the trust assets.

Time limits

One common question you’ll find in this line of work is about how long you have to file a claim. In short, there are two main factors to consider:

  1. If there is a breach of duty in terms of the trust itself;
  2. Alternatively, if allegations of fraud loom over the case, especially with regard to fraudulence on the fiduciary duty.

When a trust dispute occurs and you wish to make a claim, time limits cut back on how long you have. This ‘limitation period’ of time is usually six years from the conduct of a breach of trust. Ultimately, this time limit receives an extension in the case of fraud. But after this happens, your claims will not be valid.

Remember, above all: you have a six-year time limit to make a claim within. But regardless of the types of trust, you’re talking about, be sure to act quickly.

Remove Trustees

Turn to your solicitor for legal advice regarding this particularly contentious probate issue. But for the sake of this type of dispute resolution, the removal of a trustee is at the discretion of the trustor.

Even successors to the testator can be subject to removal thanks in part to express powers granted within the trust deed.

Laws Governing Trust Disputes

Trusts coming to life on or after 1 February 2001 are subject to the Trustee Act 2000. Meanwhile, those before this date are subject to different laws, including the Inheritance Act. Our collection of legal firms know these laws very well, especially as they pertain to trust disputes and resolution.

As we state throughout our online services, claims tend to arise whenever a claimant doesn’t receive reasonable financial provision in the Will. The Inheritance Act addresses reasonable financial provision: for instance, non-spouses and civil partners can accordingly bring a claim. For spouses and civil partners, furthermore, the matter goes beyond maintenance.

Inheritance Act claims also relate to those testators living in either England or Wales. Accordingly, the deceased person must have lived in either England or Wales. In contrast, it doesn’t really matter where the claimant is from to file a claim. Above all, you can make a claim no matter where you live – you’re not relegated to needing to be a resident in England or Wales.

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