As a Beneficiary, What Do I Need to Know About Trust Litigation?

Legal Tips and Resources

As a beneficiary of a trust, you do have rights when it comes to your loved one’s assets. You are entitled to receiving your fair portion of your loved one’s assets based on his or her instructions as listed in the trust. The successor trustee is the person your loved one appointed to handle this trust after he or she has passed on. A successor trustee must act fairly and ethically when managing assets within the trust. Sadly, sometimes the successor trustee does not handle or safeguard the trust with respect. As a result, beneficiaries could lose out on their rightful inheritance. As a beneficiary, there are certain things you may want to know about trust litigation from an estate planning law firm Ridgefield, CT trusts.

In the article here, we have provided information about why trust litigation arises, and your rights as a trust beneficiary.

Why Trust Litigation Arises

A beneficiary may take legal action against the successor trustee for many reasons. Despite the best of intentions your loved one had when writing the trust, sometimes disputes come up anyway. Examples of reasons why trust litigation may occur include the following:

  1. Breach of Trust = if the successor trustee does not act with diligence when handling the loved one’s trust, a beneficiary may file a lawsuit for damages.
  2. Poor Accounting = the successor trustee must be forthcoming about trust finances when requested by a beneficiary. If no requests are made, then a yearly report must be submitted to all beneficiaries. If the successor trustee does not do either of these duties, a beneficiary can take legal action.
  3. Property Mishandling = if the successor trustee has kept property for his or her own person interest or distributed to the wrong beneficiary, the rightful beneficiary may file a lawsuit to reclaim this property.
  4. Coercion or Mental Incapacity = if a beneficiary has suspicions that their loved one was coerced by another party to write statements in the trust that he or she otherwise would not have, a request for trust litigation can be filed. It is also possible that perhaps the loved one was not of mental capacity to create the trust with reliability. The trust may then be evaluated for validity in court.

Your Rights as a Beneficiary

When a successor trustee acts callously and with unfairness to beneficiaries, it may be in a beneficiary’s best interest to reach out to an attorney right away. As a beneficiary, you have the following rights:

  • To be informed about the status, dealings and financial decisions made by the successor trustee regarding the trust
  • To receive your inheritance in a timely manner, and to the fullest amount
  • To receive fair treatment by the successor trustee, without favoritism being a factor in how the assets are distributed

As a beneficiary, if you have concerns that your loved one’s legacy has not being taken care of with the utmost respect, you can take legal action. It is not uncommon for a beneficiary to meet with a legal professional for advice, before pursuing trust litigation.




Thank you to our friends and contributors at Sweeney Legal for their insight into estate planning and trusts.