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Trust Disputes

Whether you are a beneficiary or a trustee, our specialist trust dispute solicitors can help to guide you through this complex and often emotive area of the law. Whatever the nature of the dispute, we take a diligent and pragmatic approach to seeking to reach a resolution.

What is a trust dispute?

A trust dispute can take a number of forms and disputes can arise for many reasons, including:

  • Disagreements over costs
  • Interpretation of the terms of the trust
  • Asset value or valuation methods
  • Management of the trust fund
  • Disagreements between beneficiaries
  • Disagreements between trustees

Our contentious trust and probate solicitors fully understands how quickly a trust dispute can escalate and particularly where family members are involved, how a dispute  can take a toll on those involved if not efficiently and effectively resolved.

We aim to work with the parties to a trust dispute to find the most cost-efficient resolution which allows the administration of the trust to continue unimpeded, if that is the best course of action in the circumstances and reflects the parties’ wishes

Our trust dispute solicitors can help you with:

Our trust dispute lawyers help both beneficiaries and trustees (whether individuals or trust corporations) with:

  • UK trust disputes
  • Claims by or against trustees
  • Disputes between beneficiaries
  • Disputes between trustees
  • Removal of trustees
  • Variation of trusts
  • Issues regarding the administration of a trust

Who do our trust dispute lawyers help?

Legal Advice for Trustees – If you are a trustee and a trust dispute has arisen, we can help.

A trustee’s duties and responsibilities can become difficult to fulfil in the best interests of beneficiaries where they are in dispute with each other or who are threatening a claim against the trustees.

Legal Advice for Beneficiaries – Disputes can arise between beneficiaries and trustees as well as amongst beneficiaries under the same trust (including trusts established in a will).

The aim is always to resolve matters in the most cost effective and time efficient way possible. Disputes of this nature are often ideal for alternative dispute resolution with the goal of reaching an agreeable outcome for all parties at mediation, for example. However, there are some disputeswhich can be more difficult to overcome and court proceedings are the more likely route to resolution in such situations.

Common disputes between beneficiaries include:

  • The division and distribution of estate/trust funds
  • Matters relating to the sale of property

Claims Against Trustees – Disputes between trustees and beneficiaries can arise where the beneficiaries become dissatisfied with the way in which the trustees are administering the trust.  For example, if little or no action is taken in a timely manner; communication with the beneficiaries is poor or the trustees’ charges are considered excessive.  In such situations, it can be possible to get matters back on track by getting to the bottom of the issues quickly and working to resolve the difficulties that have arisen.

Some situations are more serious and it may be that the trustees have actually breached their duties resulting in the need for action to be taken in order to safeguard the trust assets.

A breach of trust claim by the beneficiaries against the trustees can arise for a number of reasons, such as:

  • A failure by the trustee to property distribute assets to named beneficiaries
  • Improper or irresponsible management of the trust, such as failure to invest assets
  • Perceived conflicts of interest or failing to act impartially as between beneficiaries
  • Trustee(s) unduly profiting from the trust
  • Theft of trust assets

In such a situation an application to court is likely to be required to make use of the court’s powers to require a trustee to produce an account and/or to remove a trustee all together.

Rectification of a will – An application for rectification involves asking the court to correct a will which does not give effect to the intentions of the testator.  The Administration of Justice Act 1982 provides for the court to make an order rectifying a will so that it carries out the testator’s intentions.  However, the failure to carry out those intentions must be due to a clerical error or a failure to understand the testator’s instructions.

Claims Under the Inheritance Act 1975 – If you have been omitted from a Will, or are struggling financially, having not been left as much as you expected or due to the lack a Will altogether, you may be entitled to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (‘the Inheritance Act’) allows legal protection to be given to specific individuals whose ongoing wellbeing is negatively impacted by a lack of ‘provision’ in a Will or the absence of a Will altogether.

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