No one wants to wind up in the midst of a trust litigation case, but it can and does happen. In these circumstances, legal counsel explains the process to parties involved and helps with gathering of information or paperwork. Trust litigation does not happen often, but when it does, the issues are high stakes for both the beneficiaries and the trustee. Because trust litigation is a probate and estate matter, in Delaware the Chancery Court would have jurisdiction over issues that must be settled. The provisions regarding the creation and management of trusts are found in the Delaware Code- 12 DE Code § 3501.
Fiduciary litigation or trust litigation refers to the process of resolving disputes between fiduciaries like trustees and beneficiaries. The administration of trusts is an important task that is undertaken by a trustee who was likely named by the creator of the trust themselves. Unfortunately however, there are any number of miscommunications or actions undertaken by that trustee that can raise further questions.
In these cases, a Delaware trust litigation attorney might be needed by either the beneficiary or by the trustee to represent their interests in court. Trust litigation is extremely complex and often involves sensitive matters related to distributions made to friends and family members.
A trust litigation layer can assist with clearing out these cases and ensuring that the trustee has acted in accordance with both the terms of the trust and relevant Delaware laws. There are many different basis claims or trust litigation cases, including breach of fiduciary duty, inappropriate accounting, improper transfers of assets from the trust and inappropriate investments.
In all of these circumstances, beneficiaries maintain their right to be kept up to date about what has happened within the trust and can even bring claims against a trustee when they believe that the trustee has gone too far away from what the trust creator intended or what the laws allow. These disputes of trust terminations or trustee removals should always be handled by an experienced Delaware trust litigation attorney who understands the complex factors at play.
In many cases, the estate litigator involved might refer these matters to alternative dispute resolution, such as settlement, which can enable the relevant stakeholders to meet together and to arrive at a conclusion. When these circumstances cannot lead to positive settlement talks, however, the litigator will step in to prepare this case for court. In recent years there have been an increase in fiduciary liability cases in Delaware and in other states related to fraud and self-dealing concerns when a trustee is either prosecuting or defending actions of wrongful taking from the entities that they have been charged to financially oversee, also known as beneficiaries.
Actions to access liability and damages, surcharge actions and accountings are other types of trust litigations that might be brought by beneficiaries. When a trustee’s actions have broken the law or breached their fiduciary duty that they owed to beneficiaries, it is important for beneficiaries to get legal counsel sooner rather than later to represent their interest and to move forward with legal claims. Likewise, a trustee who has been wrongfully accused or potentially fairly accused of inappropriate actions needs to understand their rights and responsibilities.
Ignoring the issue will only make it that much worse and retaining legal counsel becomes a top priority for a trustee in this situation. If you or someone you know is dealing with a potential trust dispute and would like to have an honest conversation with a lawyer who has been practicing in this field for many years, reaching out for an initial consultation with a trust litigation lawyer in Delaware could be a great way to get your questions answered and to determine your stakes in this case.