Estate Planning Checklist: How to Prevent Trust Litigation

Estate planning isn’t always an easy thing to accomplish. In fact, it can be an outright intimidating task to start. Due to the nature of estate planning, many people get assistance from a professional who can oversee this process. The goal of estate planning is to leave instructions for how a person prefers to have their legacy left behind for family members and future generations. A big concern many people have, is whether there is a chance that disputes could arise regarding their assets after they have passed on. The last thing anyone wants for their loved ones is to endure a stressful and expensive legal dispute over what is written in the trust.

Trust litigation can happen for a variety of reasons, including due to a disgruntled relative or an irresponsible trustee. Please read on for more information about how to prevent trust litigation.

Appoint a Reliable and Prepared Trustee

The trustee is the person who is going to carry out the trustor’s wishes as described in their trust. Sometimes, the trustor chooses a person who means the most to them for this role, but hadn’t considered whether he or she is capable of fulfilling such big responsibilities. The trustee must be transparent to beneficiaries, and seek legal guidance if they get stuck.

If the trustee makes a mistake when distributing assets or otherwise managing the trust, others can come forward to file a complaint. Check with the trustee before finalizing their name under this role, to ensure they are prepared for the job down the line.

The Sooner You Write a Trust, The Better

As people begin to age, they may start to think about their departure and the future of their family members. It is recommended that the sooner people get started writing an estate plan, the better. Many people may feel too much pressure to make such permanent arrangements, so they avoid tackling the task altogether. However, there are types of trusts can be updated over the years as life changes.

Unfortunately, if a senior person waits too long to establish their trust and becomes deemed unable to make sound judgements due to fading health, their trust may undergo litigation in the future. A family member may petition to the court that their relative was not of sound mind when the trust was created.

Talk Honestly with Beneficiaries

As part of writing a trust, a trustor must assign what loved ones they want to be beneficiaries. These are individuals that the trustor wants to receive a portion of their assets, whether it be tangible or intangible items. If you do not talk with your beneficiaries about your trust, this may leave an opening for disputes to arise after you have passed on. During a time of grief over the loss of a loved one, your beneficiaries are likely to be sensitive about what was given and to whom. Even though it may be a difficult conversation to have, talking honestly with beneficiaries can help prevent trust litigation later on.

Source: Estate Attorney Cherry Hill, NJ, Klenk Law

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