Are you familiar with the concept of trust litigation? Trust litigation can occur when a beneficiary believes that a trustee has violated their legal duties or their fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. These circumstances can also come about when a trustee needs to defend themselves from these kinds of claims. Hiring an experienced Illinois trust litigation lawyer is one of the best ways to protect your interests in these circumstances and to increase your chances of overall success. There are many complex factors involved in the determination of claims of wrongdoing and a trustee obviously has a vested interest in protecting their personal reputation when they have been accused of engaging in unethical or illegal acts. Note that the Illinois rules related to the formation and management of a trust are found in 760 ILCS 5 et seq.
Living Trusts in Illinois
A living trust is a trust that is created during the lifetime of the creator. Living trusts have become the base of many estate plans in Illinois because of their structure that allows them to pass assets privately to the next generation without the hassle and expense of going through probate. Probate is the process through which wills of a deceased individual are handled. However, the increasing use of trusts has also increased the amount of litigation associated with trusts and the number of people who have had to turn to an Illinois trust litigation lawyer to protect their interests.
Understanding Trust Litigation
Depending on the terms of the trust, most disputes will end up in a court of law when one or more beneficiaries has filed a suit to have the trustee account for all money spent, repay the trust for damages or have the trustee removed. Some trust terms will also require that arbitration is necessary for cases like this. When the trustee receives notice of a dispute like this, they will respond in court and discovery will start.
A court trial can occur for those cases that cannot be resolved outside of court. These cases can be very complex, can cost thousands of dollars and can take years. This can also involve claims from the beneficiaries that a temporary fiduciary should take over until the court has determined if the fiduciary duties were violated.
In circumstances in which a trustee has veered away from the terms of the trust or has indeed broken the law, a trustee could be held personally liable. Other issues that can complicate trust litigation include the fact that trustees usually want the trust to pay the cost of defense in these litigation claims and the beneficiaries can object to this. If the fiduciary duty was found to be violated the trustee will have to pay the trust back in these circumstances.
Standard rules of evidence do apply and the trial will be similar to other types of cases like this. While there is usually no jury present, there are exceptions to this. Some of the most common issues in trust litigation include claims that the trustee has failed to adhere to the terms of the trust, has been involved in self-dealing or other unethical actions, or that the trust should never have been put together in the first place because the person who created it was subject to undue influence or inappropriate mental capacity.
In all of these circumstances, having an trust litigation attorney in Illinois to guide you through the process and answer your questions can make a world of difference in the management of this claim. Being familiar with common types of trust litigation can also make it easier for you and other beneficiaries to decide if you have an appropriate type of trust litigation claim or whether you should consider the possible losses and benefits of moving forward. Retaining an experienced trust litigation attorney serving Illinois is the first step.