Common Causes of Trust Disputes in Massachusetts
Trusts are an essential part of estate planning in Massachusetts. A trust is a legal agreement where a person (the trustee) holds assets for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary). However, disputes can arise when the trustee and the beneficiaries have different expectations or interpretations of the trust’s terms. In this blog post, we will discuss the common causes of trust disputes in Massachusetts.
1. Lack of Clarity in Trust Terms
One cause of trust disputes is the lack of clarity in trust terms or provisions. Trust documents should be clear and concise, leaving no room for ambiguity or confusion. If the trust terms or provisions are unclear or open to interpretation, disagreements can arise between the trustee and the beneficiaries.
2. Mismanagement of Trust Assets
Trustees have a fiduciary duty to manage trust assets responsibly and in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If the trustee mismanages trust assets or acts in a self-serving manner, beneficiaries may file a legal action against the trustee. Examples of mismanagement of trust assets include embezzlement, fraud, or breach of fiduciary duty.
3. Disputes Over Beneficiary Rights
Beneficiaries have certain rights, such as the right to receive distributions from the trust and to be kept informed about the trust’s management. Disputes can arise when the trustee does not follow the trust’s terms or fails to communicate with the beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may also disagree over how trust assets should be distributed.
4. Disagreements Over Trustee Selection
Trustees are often family members or close friends of the person who created the trust. However, disputes can arise over the selection of the trustee, especially if one beneficiary feels that the trustee is not acting in their best interests. In some cases, beneficiaries may request that the trustee be removed and replaced with someone else.
5. Challenging the Validity of the Trust
In some cases, beneficiaries may challenge the validity of the trust, claiming that the trust was created under duress, fraud, or undue influence. If a court determines that the trust is invalid, the assets in the trust will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. There are time limits for when you can bring a challenge a trust. If you do not bring your action in a timely manner, the delay may prevent you from litigating the matters at issue. If you have a concern about the trust or its administration, you should consult with a trust attorney right away.
Trust & Estate Attorney
Trust disputes can be emotionally and financially draining for all parties involved. To prevent trust disputes, it is essential to create clear and concise trust documents, select trustees carefully, and communicate with beneficiaries regularly. If a trust dispute does arise, it is best to work with a local estate planning attorney to resolve the issue.