A trust is a legal arrangement that involves the trust creator turning over ownership of property to the trust. The trustee is charged with managing the property for the benefit of the beneficiary or beneficiaries named in the trust agreement. There are many different types of trusts in Missouri. As an experienced Minnesota trust litigation lawyer will explain, just as there are many different types of trusts, there are many different reasons for disputes to develop that are related to trusts. Some disputes are related to the manner in which the trustee does their job. Others are related to interpreting the terms of the trust, while still other disputes question the validity of the trust itself. Because in Minnesota the District Court serves as the probate court and has jurisdiction over matters related to estates, litigation related to trusts is generally heard in District Courts.
Common Reasons for Trust Disputes in Minnesota
The list of possible reasons for trust litigation is long. However, most common reasons revolve around how the trustee is doing their job, whether the trust is valid, and interpreting trust language.
- Breach of fiduciary duty. The relationship between the trustee and the beneficiaries is a fiduciary relationship. A fiduciary is legally require to carry out their duties with the highest degree of honesty and skill. They must always keep the interests of the beneficiaries in mind and most avoid acting in their own self-interest. If a beneficiary feels that the trustee is in breach of their fiduciary duty, they can contact an experienced Minnesota trust litigation lawyer and initiate trust litigation.
- Undue influence. If someone believes that that the trust is the valid they can initiate a type of litigation called a will contest. One of the grounds for contesting the validity of a will is the believe that someone took advantage of the fact that the trust creator was in a vulnerable condition and manipulated them into creating a trust or revising a trust to benefit themselves. Thus, the trust does not in reality reflect the estate planning intention of the trust creator, but of the manipulator.
- Lack of capacity. Another ground for contesting a trust is that at the time they executed the trust, the trust creator lack the mental capacity to do so. For a trust to be valid, the trust creator must have been of sound mind at the time of execution. Evidence of incapacity is grounds for invalidating the trust.
- Vague language. If a trust has vague language that is open to multiple interpretations, the trustee may initiate a construction action. In a construction action, the petitioner asks the court to clarify what a term or terms in the trust means. The trust agreement defines how a trust is to be managed by the trustee, so it is important for it to be clear. During a construction action, the court will seek to determine the intent of the trust creator. To discuss your concerns related to the language of a trust, contact an experienced trust litigation attorney in Minnesota.
Legal Standing to Initiate Trust Litigation in Minnesota
When someone files a lawsuit in court asking the court to take action, the court will dismiss the case if the petitioner does not have legal standing. They must some sort of interest in or relationship to the matter. This concept applies to trust litigation as well. Generally, the only people who would have standing to initiate trust litigation would be the trustee or beneficiaries or remainder beneficiaries.
Consequences of Trust Litigation in Minnesota
Whether you are a trustee or a beneficiary, if you feel that there is a problem related to a trust that needs to be addressed, contact an experienced trust litigation attorney serving Minnesota. Note that the consequences of litigation depend on the type of trust, the type of litigation, and the who prevails. For example, if the litigation challenges the actions of the trustee and the petitioner prevails, the consequences could involve the removal of the trustee.