Nc Trust Litigation Attorney

TRUST LITIGATION CLAIMS

There are a number of cases involving trusts such as:

  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Failure to Report and Inform Beneficiaries (demand for an accounting)
  • Violation of the Prudent Investor Rule
  • Trustee Removal Actions
  • Termination of a Trust
  • Trust Contests
  • Challenging the Validity of a Trust

Our NC Trust Litigation Attorneys are experienced in Trust disputes.

A trust can contain substantial assets. A trustee should communicate on a regular basis with the beneficiaries to inform them of the assets, investment performance, the income, the expenses of the trust. You need a copy of the trust that you are a beneficiary. If a trustee is not communicating, you may have significant issues.

  • Trust Litigation Disputes

Can a Trust be Contested?

Yes, for many reasons. If the trust was done when the grantor/settlor lacked mental capacity to understand the nature of the document, know his/her property, know who should be his/her beneficiaries, then it can be challenged. If there was undue influence on the grantor/settlor by another to make a trust such that the influencer’s desires overrode the settlor’s free will, then you have an undue influence attack. There’s also duress, fraud, forgery, and mistake among other challenges to the document. Bottom line: was the trust the accurate wishes of the grantor when in good mind?

In addition, trust litigation includes other challenges including trustee misconduct, failure to distribute, breach of prudent investor rule, breach of fiduciary duty, and more.

  • Trustee Removal

Can a Trustee be removed in NC?

Yes, a trustee may be removed by the court if the trustee committed a serious breach of trust, the co-trustees fail to work together such that it substantially harms the trust administration, the trustee is unfit, unwilling, or fails to administer, and a catchall due to substantial change of circumstances that serves the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Kirk had a case where a trustee wouldn’t sell a $1,000,000 piece of commercial real property for over 5 years until his clients hired me. Meantime, this trustee used the property rent free for years for his personal business. Sound like self-dealing? Yes it was. Kirk Sanders had cases where the trustee was living in the house owned by the trust for years. Outcome: Kirk got the court to order the trustee to be removed & the new trustee sold the property. Kirk had a case where trustee wouldn’t distribute income to the beneficiaries. Outcome: Trustee was removed and funds distributed to the trust beneficiaries. Those are just a few of the examples of trustee removal.

  • Trustee Appointment & Successor Trustee

There are times when the court is required to determine who should be appointed trustee. Sometimes it is because the appointed trustee is dead or unwilling to serve. Another reason is the current trustee lacks capacity but refuses to resign, and a successor trustee needs to be appointed.

  • Challenging a Trust Amendment

What if there is a questionable trust amendment?

You can challenge the trust amendment and just the amendment if the underlying trust agreement is valid. Sometimes trust grantors (makers) do multiple restatements and amendments to the same trust. Each of these restatements and amendments are subject to challenge based on capacity issues, undue influence, fraud, or unenforceability. This is typically a clerk of court determination.

  • Trust meaning determination

What if part of the trust is ambiguous?

If the trust construction and interpretation is questionable or raises issues, then it may require a court action and hearing if there is a dispute. Sometimes the trust will need trust reformation or the court to determine trust determination. This can include filing a declaratory judgment action. A declaratory judgment (aka DecJ) determines the meaning of terms in the trust agreement, the rights of the beneficiaries, or how to handle certain trust assets. Declaratory Judgments are part of Chapter 1, Article 26, starting with §1-253 (see NC General Statutes https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_1/Article_26.pdf )

  • Theft of Trust Assets

What if the trust assets are stolen or hidden?

The trustee can bring an action on behalf of the trust to recover the assets. If the trustee refuses, then a beneficiary can bring an action to force the trustee to act or be removed.

Call Kirk Sanders to discuss your trust dispute case at 336-768-1515

  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty

What is breach of fiduciary duty in NC?

When the person or trust company does not follow the polestar “best interest rule” for the beneficiaries, the trust, and/or the estate. Examples breaches of fiduciary duties include:

  • Stealing money
  • Mismanaging assets
  • Failure to delegate tasks, eg. Failure to hire a financial advisor to manage an investment account or hire a real estate broker to sell real estate
  • Failure to prudently invest assets,
  • Failure to invest and manage trust assets,
  • Failure to preserve and protect assets,
  • Self-dealing,
  • Conflict of interest,
  • Failure to inform beneficiaries, give copy of the trust,
  • Failure to give accountings,
  • Failure to administer the estate, trust, guardianship according to the terms of the document

Call Kirk Sanders to discuss your breach of fiduciary case at 336-768-1515