It is never an easy thing to realise that there is an issue with the estate of a deceased loved one. Even the best efforts of every party involved are sometimes not quite enough to make sure that the situation is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. A will is a complicated thing, and when something like a trust is involved, there are a number of different elements that can create serious problems.
The most important thing to remember if you find yourself in a position where you need to seek legal help is that this is a common occurrence. The reasons for asking for legal advice can be major, or they can simply be asking for clarification of a specific element. It is always far better to reach out to a lawyer who has experience in this area than to spend months or even years going back and forth with the various parties involved. Here are just a few of the most common reasons why you might want to talk to a solicitor about a trust dispute.
The Wording Of The Trust Is Not Clear
Sadly, it is often the case that the deceased has settled their affairs close to the end of their life, and in such circumstances, they may not have left the clearest instructions. It is possible that they were written in very general terms that leave too much room for interpretation. Another example is that they were written with the assumption that the relevant parties would know what they meant, when in fact they are as clear as mud.
The Deceased May Have Been Influenced By Another Party
We have all read the stories about the multitude of scams that have been committed over the course of the pandemic on vulnerable people, from cybercrime to the Royal Mail fake messages. The sad truth is that people have never needed a global calamity to extort money from people who place too much trust in them. You may have reason to believe that someone benefitting from the trust may have either coerced the deceased into showing them more favour, or otherwise taken advantage of their vulnerable state. In these cases, you may need to remove a trust beneficiary or to dispute the validity of the entire thing.
The Person Administering The Trust Is Not Doing Their Job Properly
When it comes to a trust, one of the most important jobs belongs to the person administering or distributing the different elements: the trustee. This person will typically be named in the will, and there are a number of reasons why they may be unsuitable or unable to fulfil their duties before the whole process gets started. If the will was drawn up a long time ago, the named individual may no longer be well enough, or they may have in fact passed away.
But issues can also arise once the process has begun. For example, you may realise that they are incapable of being impartial, or they are not committed to their duties. It may also become clear during the process that the appointed trustee is actually benefiting from their role, and they do not have the best interest of the beneficiaries at heart. Trust dispute solicitors like Hugh James can help you to identify issues and help you towards a swift and satisfactory resolution.
There Is A Disagreement Between The Beneficiaries And The Trustees
Following on from the point above, it is not entirely uncommon for there to be serious disagreements between the beneficiaries about the terms of the trust. It is also hardly uncommon for the beneficiaries to be united, or to at least be united enough, in their opinion that they simply do not want the trustee to be the one in control. Not getting on with the trustee can be grounds for removing them from their duties, but it is definitely a good idea to talk to a solicitor about the best way to proceed.
The State Of The Trust Assets Has Changed Since The Will Was Written
We have talked about how an old will can sometimes create complications when it comes to the trustee’s ability to fulfil their duties. However, a will that was created some time ago with a trust element can become complicated if the assets that have been listed are either a surprise to the relevant parties, or if their value has either diminished or improved since the trust details were written.
For example, say that the deceased left stocks in a business to a beneficiary as part of their trust, on the assumption that they would continue to improve and they would be a good investment waiting for them when they reached a certain age, while other beneficiaries received cash or property. If the stocks suddenly plummet in value, which may well have occurred during the chaos of the pandemic and UK stock market downturn, there may be a dispute. Parties may feel that the trust as it stands may not reflect the wishes of the deceased.