You might not expect these cases to be overly complicated, but make no mistake: Trust litigation is a lawsuit that encompasses all the features of a trial. You put your rights at risk by trying to tackle essential tasks on your own, so trust our team at Bruning & Associates, P.C. to shoulder the legal burdens. We are committed to protecting your interests, so please contact us today to learn how we can help with your case. We can set up a complimentary consultation with an Illinois trust litigation lawyer who can explain specifics regarding your case, but an overview is also useful.
How Trusts Work in Illinois
This individual creates the trust by signing the appropriate documents and placing assets in the name of the trust.
As the person in charge of the trustee, the trustee manages trust assets and makes distributions to beneficiaries according to the instructions included in the trust document. With some estate planning strategies, the trustee and grantor may be the same individual.
When creating the trust, the grantor will include specifics on how trust assets, principal, and/or income are distributed to beneficiaries.
There are numerous types of trusts that aim to achieve different goals, but there are two notable points in the context of trust litigation.
1. A grantor can create a living trust, which becomes effective when funded. It is also possible for a person to include a testamentary trust in a will, in which case the terms become effective at the testator’s death. The executor of the will also take on the role of trustee in many cases.
2. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable, and the arrangement works just as it sounds: The grantor cannot make changes or cancel an irrevocable will, but it is possible to modify a revocable living trust. A grantor might create an irrevocable trust to leverage estate planning advantages, primarily to ensure that property held within it is not considered his or her own.
Common Issues in Illinois Trust Litigation
Beneficiaries and interested parties having an expectation regarding distributions can file a lawsuit to dispute the validity of the trust. Trust contests might be based upon allegations of undue influence by someone in a position of confidence or control over the grantor. Another argument is that the grantor lacked the mental capacity to sign the document.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
The trustee acts in a fiduciary capacity with respect to beneficiaries, owing them:
- A duty of loyalty
- The obligation to act in their best interests
- A duty to avoid conflicts of interests in managing trust assets
Trust litigation involving a breach of fiduciary duty may aim to remove the trustee for taking improper actions or failing to act. When assets have been mismanaged, it is also possible to recover for losses stemming from the trustee’s misconduct.
This type of trust litigation often follows or accompanies a breach by the trustee, but beneficiaries have the right to an accounting. Through legal action, beneficiaries can compel the trustee to provide information on assets, income, and expenditures. If accounting was provided and the beneficiaries object, they can request court intervention to address trustee misconduct.
If the beneficiaries discover that funds were misappropriated or assets were mismanaged, they can pursue a surcharge action to restore losses. The trustee may be held accountable for monetary damages, interest, and attorneys’ fees.
Legal Help with Trust Litigation
We are prepared to tackle the important tasks involved with trust litigation, including:
- Advising you on the laws and legal concepts that affect your interest
- Helping assess objectives, strengths, and weaknesses of your case
- Collecting evidence to support your position in trust litigation
- Conducting written discovery and deposing witnesses
- Developing legal arguments
- Preparing for trial, which involves presenting witnesses, cross-examining parties, introducing important exhibits, and other efforts
In addition, our lawyer can explain options for resolving trust disputes outside the courtroom, such as settlement agreements, trust modification, and terminations.
Contact Our Illinois Trust Litigation Attorneys to Learn More
Serving Trust Litigation clients in Northern Illinois, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, McHenry County, Lake County, Will County, Boone County, DeKalb County, Kendall County, LaSalle County, and Winnebago County.