Most people have thought about estate planning, but may not be so familiar with the process of creating one. One of the most common estate planning tasks is establishing a trust in such a way that the document hopefully avoids undergoing litigation in the future. Trust litigation can happen for a variety of reasons, including questioning the validity of the trust or taking action against a trustee who is acting in his or her own self interests.
Regardless of the reason why, it is crucial to seek help from an experienced attorney for help to get through trust litigation disputes. Here we have talked more about why doing what you can to avoid trust litigation in the future is so important when writing your estate plan.
The Trust Basics
With a trust, the creator of the estate plan (otherwise referred to ask grantor or settlor), puts their assets in the control of an appointed trustee. This individual manages the assets within the estate for the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are people the creator chose to receive a portion of their assets after death.
Trusts are complex, which is why those who have never written an estate plan often consult with a legal professional to ensure that it has a strong foundation. Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions disputes can arise between beneficiaries or the trustee as the trust is being handled.
About Today’s World
Trust documents are so vital in today’s world, as they can essentially help protect a person’s money from a lawsuit (unlike other estate planning documents). Sadly, we live in a culture where people may feel entitled to receive certain things when they really don’t. For example, a creator of a trust may have not included a relative at all, simply because they weren’t close or had a falling out at one point in their life. But then, after the creator passes away that relative may pop up and feel entitled to a percentage of the estate.
If a disgruntled relative files a complaint, assets that were originally assigned for beneficiaries may be at risk. As you can imagine, this can cause profound upset amongst beneficiaries who were closer to the trust creator who passed away. Trust and estate litigation can be messy, and quite challenging to get through without legal assistance.
Designating a Trustee
One of the most frequent issues that arises in trust and estate litigation courts, is over a trustee who proved to be irresponsible with the trust creator’s assets. A person can help avoid litigation for their loved ones down the line if they appoint a person who is somewhat business savvy (or at least willing to ask for help from a professional when needed), loyal to the family, ethical nature, and organized. It is also imperative that you ask this person if they are willing to be the trustee after you pass away, as this role can come along with significant pressure and responsibility.