As a New Mexico trust litigation attorney can tell you, the primary purpose of a trust is to protect your estate planning interests and to add a layer of privacy. However, as anyone who has been in the midst of a dispute can inform you, this can be a very complex situation and one that requires the support of a knowledgeable trust litigation lawyer.
There are many different common reasons for trust disputes. Trust disputes often arise between a beneficiary and a trustee. The trustee is appointed to handle the administration of a trust but this person can act in violation of their fiduciary duty. This means they have a legal responsibility to protect the best interests of the beneficiaries and when this does not happen, this can for the basis of a trust conflict. There are five primary situations involving trust disputes.
The first of these involves opportunistic care providers who might take advantage of their position of confidence and trust to secure benefits for themselves, forming the basis of an undue influence claim about the entire basis of the trust. This is when a beneficiary believes that the trust was not created with the real intentions of the grantor in mind and that somebody else exercised their position of influence to change the terms of the trust to benefit them or their organization.
It can be extremely difficult to prove claims of undue influence but there are still plenty of trust conflicts in the courts associated with this. Another situation can involve a surviving spouse or opportunistic sibling who has the responsibility of serving as the trustee and takes advantage of their position to harm other family members. The administration of the trust must be in accordance with state laws and the terms of the trust and when this is not followed to the letter, the trustee can be held personally liable for damage that they have caused the trust. Unrealistic expectations is yet another common reason for trust conflicts.
A lack of discussion concerning the family’s estate plan can mean that certain people who thought they would be heirs are disappointed by their lack of inclusion at all or what they have received in the trust. However, so long as it can be shown that the grantor was well aware of creation of their trust and did so in accordance with state laws and had full mental capacity to do so, it can be very difficult to challenge the terms of a trust.
Another issue can emerge when a trustee, intentionally or not, violates their fiduciary duty engaging in behavior such as self-dealing.
For example, perhaps they make investments in a fund that they personally benefit from even though this represents direct harm to the overall value of the assets and therefore the beneficiaries. In these circumstances the beneficiaries can bring a legal claim against the trustee for those actions. A fifth common example of trust litigation that might prompt someone to retain a New Mexico trust litigation lawyer is when a trustee fails to provide proper accounting.
A trustee is responsible for taking all actions in association with the trust and has the discretion to do so. However, they still must document what they have done in handling the trust and if they fail to do so and beneficiaries are not kept informed about these actions or when there are questionable financial transactions, it falls to a trust litigation attorney in New Mexico to help sort out the aftermath. The support of an experienced lawyer is instrumental in guiding you through this process when you are a beneficiary or if you are a trustee who has been accused of violating the law.
There is a lot on the line when it comes to the administration of a trust and upholding a trust’s terms. It should be an essential component of planning for the future to retain an experienced lawyer who is highly knowledgeable about these complex issues. Schedule a time to speak with a dedicated attorney to learn more.