Trust Litigation

Charleston Trust Litigation or Trust ContestsMany trusts are structured and handled with very little issues. Sometimes clients though will express trust management concerns that require trust litigation, or trust contests, to be pursued.  Trust litigation matters generally fall into one of three broad categories: actions directed at the trust instrument, such as construction suits or reformations; actions directed at the trustee, such as suits for an accounting or for an alleged breach of some fiduciary duty; and trust contests, which are actions to rescind the trust.

In the first case, a client may dispute the provisions of the trust and argue that the outlined agreements of a trust do not properly accomplish the results that the client desired when structuring the trust. Challenges to the structuring and performance of a trust are often known as construction suits. While the client may be able to amend the language and resolve the issue for a revocable trust, trust litigation is usually required to alter an irrevocable trust with improper construction mechanics.

Trust litigation may also be brought about by challenges to the actions outside parties in the trust’s formation and the trust management. Some trust contests, like will contests, may be based on the grounds of undue influence. Undue influence claims typically argue that the deceased was manipulated or coerced into the formation of the trust. Undue influence charges may also be applied to trust management claims if it is believed that a trustee mismanaged the trust on the basis of external control.  Trust mismanagement is more commonly contested on the grounds of negligence, senility, dementia, mental illness or substance abuse.

Trusts are one of the most integral estate planning devices. Whether allowing for estate disposition through a revocable living trust or providing physical care for a loved one through an insurance trust or special needs trust, trusts are also one of the most common estate planning devices. Because of their importance and prevalence, it is natural trust litigation battles to arise that require legal representation. Our Charleston estate planning attorneys provide legal counsel in the array of trust litigation matters, ranging from ownership disputes to asset mismanagement charges.
Trust litigation may lastly be founded on a desire to be revoked. Although irrevocable trusts are characteristically unalterable, there are some extenuating circumstances in which a judge can make an exception to amend or change the trust. In any case, it may be wise to contact one our Charleston estate planning attorneys before further pursuing trust litigation to discuss your legal options.