A trust is a legal contract where a person who owns assets (the Grantor or Settlor) creates a set of rules (the Trust agreement), puts the assets into the trust, and appoints a person or business to manage the assets in the trust (a Trustee) for the benefit of a person or people who will receive those assets at specific times (a Beneficiary).
If a trust is created by a person who lacks capacity, or who has been the victim of fraud or undue influence, litigation may be necessary to determine if the trust is valid. If a trust is valid, there may be problems with the administration of the trust after the grantor becomes incapacitated or dies. The successor trustee is obligated to follow the terms of the trust and the laws of the state of Michigan. If they do not, then the beneficiaries have the right to bring litigation in probate court. Occasionally, the trust agreement is not written clearly, may violate Michigan law or policy, or the named successor trustees are not able or willing to assume those duties. In those cases, a petition may have to be filed with the probate court for instructions or appointment of a successor trustee.
Contact us at the Bassett Murray Law Group, PLLC, in Ann Arbor, MI, about a trust litigation case. We help beneficiaries determine if the trustee breached their fiduciary duties. We also help trustees defend against false charges and mediate disputes between beneficiaries. Call us today at 734-930-9200 to speak with a trust litigation attorney.
Fiduciary Duties of the Trustee During Trust Administration
When a grantor passes away, the named successor trustee must notify the beneficiaries if they accept the appointment or decline to serve. If they accept, they must begin the process of administering the trust. Responsibilities could include:
- Serving documents on the beneficiaries
- Valuation of assets
- Compiling an inventory and providing that to the beneficiaries
- Notifying creditors
- Winding down a business
- Cleaning out and repairing real estate
- Selling real estate
- Filing and paying taxes on the trust
- Distributing specific assets to beneficiaries according to the trust agreement
- Holding, investing and managing trust assets until a future date or beneficiary age specified in the trust
Whether you are the trustee accused of mishandling these task, or a beneficiary or creditor whose interests have been affected by a trustee’s mismanagement, Bassett Murray Law Group, PLLC can represent you in trust litigation.
Filing for Trust Administration or Probate Litigation
Trust litigation attorneys file claims in probate litigation court for their clients who wish to dispute trust documents, terms and administration. We can help if you believe:
- The trust document is the product of undue influence or fraud
- The grantor lacked capacity
- The terms of the trust are not clearly written
- The nominated trustee is unwilling or unable to serve
- The trustee is mishandling the administration
- The assets are being mismanaged
- You are not receiving the documents, accountings or distributions you are entitled to
- Your creditor claim has been wrongfully denied or ignored.
Any of these situations can lead to a trust litigation case in court. Whether you are a beneficiary of a trust filing a trust litigation suit or a trustee facing a claim from a beneficiary, we can help you with your case.
How a Trust Litigation Attorney Can Help You Build Your Case
If you’re a beneficiary of a trust, an experienced trust litigation attorney can help you find documentation for asset transfers, trust amendments, or evidence of undue influence over the grantor.
If you are a trustee defending against such claims, your attorney can help you collect and preserve valuable evidence and establish a timeline of your decisions regarding the trust, including investments, trust accounting to pay taxes, and distribution of assets according to the trust agreement.