Trust Property Disputes
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What Is a Trust Property Dispute?
A trust dispute may occur when there are any disagreements regarding the distribution of property as listed in a trust. Trusts are a common way for persons to distribute both personal and real property. In a trust, the property is first transferred to a trustee, who holds the property or assets “in trust” for a specified time before transferring it to the intended beneficiary.
There are usually conditions attached to the distribution of the property. For instance, the trust creator might include instructions that the property is to be held in trust until the beneficiary turns of legal age. Due to the complexity of some trusts, a legal dispute can arise over the property distribution.
What Are Some Common Types of Trust Property Disputes?
Some common trust property disputes include:
- Disputes as to which beneficiary is supposed to receive the property
- Disputes over the timing of the property transfer
- Disputes regarding the trustee’s handling of the property, such as if the trustee sold or distributed the property in violation of the terms of the trust
- Conflicts over the amount or value of property involved
- Property distributions that are illegal or against trust laws
In addition, trust property disputes are common for family trusts. This may be because the close interests involved may create conflicts between family beneficiaries. Also, trust disputes may involve not only real or personal property, but also monetary amounts, such as bank account contents.
How Are Trust Property Disputes Handled?
Trust property disputes are commonly resolved through a review of the actual trust document. In most cases, judges will try to utilize the original trust document as much as possible to help resolve the property dispute. This is why it is so important to make sure that trust terms are drafted clearly and in an unambiguous manner.
If the trust document itself does not help resolve the situation, the court may review other factors such as:
- Previous distributions of property between the beneficiary and the creator of the trust
- Other documents such as receipts, personal letters, or electronic documents
- The actions and conduct of the parties involved
A trust dispute may result in damages awards for the plaintiff party, or a court order requiring that the property be transferred in a certain way.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Trust Property Dispute?
Trust property disputes can sometimes involve some fairly technical legal issues and terms. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need assistance in filing a legal claim over a trust property issue. Your attorney can help you file your paperwork, and can provide representation during court meetings. Also, you may wish to hire an attorney early on if you need help drafting or editing a trust document.
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Last Modified: 05-05-2014 04:15 PM PDT
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