You made a commitment when you agreed to be a successor trustee. You assured the person who created the trust that you would administer the trust fairly, according to the trust terms, and according to all applicable laws. That remains your goal, but it is proving to be far more difficult than you anticipated. The beneficiaries are unhappy and are expressing their concerns. The situation may be uncomfortable or stressful as you worry about a potential legal challenge. Now you are dealing with trust problems that have you concerned and are taking on a life of their own at times. You know must focus on what to do next.
If you are a trustee dealing with trust problems with beneficiaries, you can protect yourself and the trust by doing the following.
- Documenting everything. This may clear up any confusion about your actions and accounting, and documents will be useful if there is a legal challenge.
- Scheduling a meeting or providing documents in writing. Sometimes disputes are over miscommunications, and proper communication can resolve them.
- Getting investment advice. This can be useful to show that you exercised your fiduciary duty with regard to the trust.
- Seeking legal counsel. An attorney can help you understand your rights and resolve potential conflicts.
You may be able to resolve trust problems with a beneficiary by:
- Seeking a compromise as long as you are can do so without violating your fiduciary duty or your obligations as trustee.
- Considering a formal request for a new trustee or your resignation if the relationship is not working.
Whatever course of action you take, do not let the dispute grow into a bigger problem. To stay current on trust laws and issues affecting trustees, please like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our free newsletter.