Trusts are an important estate planning tool that can ensure your assets are safeguarded and your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes. However, trusts can also be the subject of contention if the validity of the instrument is challenged, or a trustee fails to manage the assets properly. If these types of disputes cannot be settled outside the courtroom, litigation may be necessary to reach a resolution.
At Litico Law Group, our attorneys pursue and defend lawsuits for a broad scope of trust and estate administration matters. Whether you’re a beneficiary who is contesting the trust’s validity, or a trustee accused of mismanagement, we know how important it is for you to accomplish your objectives to move forward. Offering high-quality legal services and experienced counsel, we are committed to helping you reach a positive outcome in your case.
A trust is a legal tool that allows a third-party (called a “trustee”) to hold assets or property on behalf of a beneficiary selected by the creator of the trust (also known as the “trustor” or “settlor”). They may be established to protect the trustor’s assets, reduce estate taxes, and avoid probate. Critically, there are many different types of trusts that can be incorporated into a comprehensive estate plan, depending on the needs and objectives of the trustor.
There are two basic types of trusts recognized in Illinois — revocable and irrevocable trusts. Revocable trusts are set up by an individual during their lifetime and can be changed or revoked at any time while the testator is alive. If a trust is irrevocable, it becomes concrete once it has been executed and cannot be modified.
Trust litigation refers to the legal process of contesting or defending a trust dispute in court. Although trusts are created in many cases to avoid probate, the grantor’s beneficiaries may still be entitled to commence legal action against a trustee or third-party to obtain their rightful inheritance. While a trust cannot be challenged based on disagreement with the terms it contains, there are many legal reasons a trust might be contested — and various scenarios that can give rise to litigation.
Significantly, trustees are charged with and responsible for managing the assets of a trust. They are obligated to follow the terms of the trust agreement and the laws governing trusts and trustees. Importantly, they owe a fiduciary duty to a trust's beneficiaries and must carry out their duties with care and honesty, without unfairly benefiting themselves to the detriment of the beneficiaries. Failure on the part of a trustee to adhere to their responsibilities under the Illinois Trust Code can lead to a beneficiary commencing legal action.
In addition, beneficiaries and trustees often have disputes regarding the management, administration, investment, control, use, or distribution of trust assets. These issues can be compounded where the trustee and beneficiary are family members, the terms of the trust agreement are ambiguous, or there are allegations of misapplication or misappropriation of trust funds.
Other common reasons a trust may be litigated can include the following:
In some cases, trust disputes can be resolved out of court through negotiation or a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration. The attorneys at Litico Law Group have experience handling trust litigation matters and know what it takes to reach a successful outcome. Working diligently to achieve a favorable outcome in every case, we apply our broad scope of knowledge and full range of skills for optimal results.
If you are facing a trust dispute that must be resolved through litigation, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the legal process associated with these matters. As with any type of civil dispute, trust litigation begins with filing a petition with the court. This document contains the allegations giving rise to the trust dispute and requests a legal remedy.
After the petition has been served on the opposing party and all other interested parties, there is a certain amount of time to file an answer. Following the initial “pleadings” stage, the discovery process begins. During this phase of litigation, the parties will have an opportunity to investigate the facts of the dispute and request documents, information, and evidence. Depositions may also be conducted.
A case involving a trust dispute can settle at any time during the litigation process. However, because emotions often run high in family disputes, it’s not always possible to resolve these types of cases outside of court. In the event that a resolution to the dispute cannot be reached, the matter will ultimately proceed to trial.
Litigation regarding a trust can be a time-consuming, stressful, and emotionally charged process. The attorneys at Litico Law Group skillfully assist clients with navigating the complexities of trust litigation. Providing capable counsel and reliable representation, we strive to settle your dispute as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you are a party to a trust dispute, it’s essential to have legal counsel by your side to protect your rights. Located in Rolling Meadows, Litico Law Group serves the legal needs of trust beneficiaries and trustees for a wide variety of trust challenges in Illinois. We welcome you to schedule a consultation, contact us online or give us a call at 847-307-5942 to learn how we can help.