Trust disputes generally arise after the loss of a loved one. They are often emotionally charged and raise highly complex legal issues. Drawing on over four decades of litigation experience, the trust law team at the offices of Robert W. York is dedicated to softening the blow of your loss while maintaining an assertive stance in the courtroom, if necessary, to defend your rights and uphold the true intentions of your loved one.
Generally, a trust is an estate planning document by which a person creating a trust (the “settlor”) transfers an asset to an asset manager (the “trustee”) with directions as to how that asset is to be administered for those intended to benefit from the asset (the “beneficiaries”).
The typical trust dispute arises from a trust created in a Last Will (“testamentary trust”) or from a “revocable trust” described by our Supreme Court as a popular substitute for wills, intended to provide non-probate distribution of a person’s assets after their deaths, but allowing them to retain control and use of their assets during their lifetime.
In the case of the testamentary trust, the trust comes into existence only upon the death of the settlor and, since it was created by the settlor’s Last Will, whether or not the trust is valid is determined by whether the Last Will is determined to be valid.
A revocable trust exists both before and after the death of the settlor and, in most cases, provides that the settlor is also the trustee and beneficiary of the trust. Upon the settlor’s death, the trust assets are then to be administered by a successor trustee for the benefit of those named as beneficiaries of the trust.
Just as with a Last Will, in order for the terms of a revocable trust to be valid:
- The settlor must have been of sound mind to create the trust;
- The terms of the trust must have been those fully intended by the settlor without undue influence by another;
- In creating the trust, the settlor must not have been subjected to fraud by another; and,
- The trust document must properly conform to the legal requirements for creating a trust.
Any challenge to the validity of a trust must be timely filed within the time period provided in Indiana’s Trust Code and case decisions interpreting the Code.
Once a trust is created, the trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the settlor and beneficiaries of the trust. Additional trust disputes may therefore arise as to how the trust is or has been administered by the trustee, including such things as:
- Failure to administer the trust in accordance with its terms;
- Failure to properly collect or preserve trust assets;
- Failure to properly invest the trust assets;
- Improper distributions or lack of distributions to the trust’s beneficiaries;
- Combining the trustee’s personal assets with the trust’s assets;
- Improper combining the assets of the trust with those of another trust; and,
- Failure to properly account to the beneficiaries.
Over the past 45 years, trust litigation attorney Robert W. York has seen almost every kind of trust dispute in cases throughout Indiana. His dedication to effectiveness in representing his clients’ interests in mediation and in the courtroom regarding trust matters has earned him the respect of his peers throughout the state of Indiana.
To speak with a lawyer with experience in trust matters and a reputation for effectiveness in support of clients’ positions in the courtroom, contact the offices of Robert W. York today via email or call 317-842-8000.
Let us evaluate your current circumstances in detail and formulate a realistic plan for moving forward.