Losing a loved one is never easy, and settling their estate can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing. The process can become even more complicated when a trust is involved. An Austin trust litigation lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and help you fight for the decedent’s wishes to be honored.
What Is Trust Litigation?
Trust litigation is the process of settling disagreements about an express trust. You create an express trust when you place property under the control of a trustee for another’s benefit. Typical trust litigation includes disputes over:
- The interpretation of the trust document,
- The management of the trust assets, or
- The distribution of the trust assets.
Trust litigation often involves disputes between the trustee and the trust beneficiaries. An Austin trust litigation attorney can represent the trustee, the beneficiaries, or any other party with an interest in a trust. They can help you resolve disagreements by negotiating a settlement or litigating the case in court.
Fiduciary Duty: The Trustee’s Role
A trustee is a person or entity responsible for managing and administering a trust according to the terms set out in the trust document. The trustee has a legal duty, known as a fiduciary duty, to act in the best interest of the trust’s beneficiaries. Under Texas law, the trustee must act with the highest level of integrity, honesty, and loyalty when managing the trust assets and making decisions related to the trust.
The trustee’s responsibilities include:
- Managing the trust assets,
- Investing the assets,
- Making distributions to the beneficiaries, and
- Providing accountings.
The trustee is also responsible for ensuring that they administer the trust in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. They must also take care to meet the trust’s tax obligations.
The fiduciary duty of the trustee is solemn, and a breach of this duty can result in legal action by the beneficiaries. A trust litigation attorney in Austin can help you make sure that a trustee is fulfilling their fiduciary duty and can represent the beneficiaries in any legal proceedings related to the trust.
Why Trusts Are Beneficial in Estate Planning
Trusts are a standard tool used in estate planning for many reasons. One of the main benefits of trusts is that they can help protect the trust assets from creditors and lawsuits. Trusts can be essential for individuals with significant assets or those concerned about potential long-term care costs.
Trusts can also minimize your tax obligation on the transfer of assets. For example, a trust can help defer or eliminate estate taxes on the assets in the trust. Additionally, trusts can also provide for the management and distribution of assets for beneficiaries who are minors or who have special needs.
Another benefit of trusts is that they allow assets to be distributed without requiring probate. Probate is the legal process of transferring assets from the decedent to the beneficiaries. It can be a lengthy and costly process. Trusts can help avoid probate and ensure that the grantor’s wishes are carried out more quickly and efficiently.
A trust litigation lawyer in Austin, TX, can help individuals and families understand their legal obligations and protect their rights when there is a dispute concerning a trust.
Remedies in Texas Trust Litigation
- Injunctive relief—a court may instruct or prohibit the trustee from taking specific actions;
- Constructive trust—if the trustee mismanaged trust assets, a court-ordered trust can help transfer trust assets back to the beneficiaries;
- Accounting—a court may order the trustee to provide an accounting of the trust assets to establish if they were properly managed;
- Removal of the trustee—a court can dismiss a trustee who violates their fiduciary duties or cannot effectively run the trust;
- Monetary damages—a court may order a trustee to compensate a beneficiary or other party for a breach of trust; and
- Reformation of the trust—a court may modify the trust terms if they are invalid or unenforceable.
An attorney familiar with Austin trust litigation can analyze the facts of your case and advise you on the best remedy to seek for your situation.
Find Your Austin Trust Litigation Lawyer at The Law Offices of Kyle Robbins, PLLC
At Robbins Estate Law, we understand that disagreements about a trust can be complex and emotional. Our firm offers innovative, collaborative, and compassionate representation throughout trust litigation. Whether you’re a trustee, beneficiary, or another party with an interest in a trust, we can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights and interests.
Our attorneys understand the importance of protecting your assets, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Austin trust litigation attorneys.