Over the years, trusts have become increasingly popular instruments of estate planning and administration that are more flexible and private than traditional wills. As a result, many estate disputes ultimately become trust disputes, requiring the attention of a lawyer who understands the principles of trust law and handles trust contests and litigation.
If you have questions about the management of a trust or suspect the trustee is abusing his or her duties, let the attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group review the situation and discuss your legal options. You may need to take legal action and pursue a trust contest in North Carolina civil court.
For more than 35 years, our dedicated Raleigh trust and estate attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC have helped individuals and families in North Carolina navigate the process of the orderly distribution of family possessions. If you have questions about how to resolve a family trust dispute and whether trust litigation is appropriate, let a trust dispute attorney at Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC offer sound guidance based on years of experience with family trust disputes and estate matters. The attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group seek to honor the hard work, wishes and charitable goals of our clients.
Types of Trust Litigation
At the Brady Cobin Law Group, we have the experience and insight to protect our clients’ interest in trust litigation, including:
- Trust Contests
Many disputes arise because beneficiaries or family members disagree with the terms of a trust. Not everyone is legally entitled to file a lawsuit challenging a trust. A person must be able to establish that he or she has a financial interest in the trust or would inherit money if the trust did not exist. Only beneficiaries named in a trust are entitled by law to receive a copy of a trust or an accounting of the trust, without a court order. If you have been disinherited or disadvantaged by the provisions of a trust, we may be able to help you pursue a trust contest on grounds of incapacity or undue influence, if the facts support such a petition. A trust contest is a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate a trust or challenge amendments to a trust.
A trust may be successfully challenged if it can be proved that the person creating the trust lacked the mental capacity to do so. However, if the person who created the trust successfully managed his or her financial affairs for a number of years after creating the trust, it may be difficult to challenge on the grounds of incapacity.
Another common basis for a trust contest is that the person was under the undue influence of another person to make amendments to a trust and not exercising his or her own free will. If you were disinherited in favor of people who do not have a family connection and you suspect your loved one was under undue influence to make an amendment to the trust, you may have grounds to contest a trust. Many lawsuits involving contested trusts involve some type of financial elder abuse or evidence of undue pressure to leave someone out of a trust. We can take legal action to compel a trust accounting.
Trust litigation is a specialized area of law. It is important to seek the guidance of a trust contest attorney who has an in-depth knowledge of North Carolina laws addressing the execution and administration of trusts as well as litigation procedures in local courts.
- Claims Against Trustees
If you believe that a trustee has committed an abuse of power or breach of trust, we can help you take action to hold the trustee legally accountable. Some trustees may be unresponsive to beneficiaries’ requests for information, raising suspicions about the administration of the trust.
Under North Carolina law, trustees have a legal duty to act in good faith and in accordance with the terms of the trust and the interests of the trust beneficiaries. Whether by intention or not, not all trustees comply with their fiduciary duty. When this happens, the trustee exposes himself or herself to a lawsuit brought by a beneficiary. Our attorneys have experience representing both beneficiaries and trustees in claims involving fiduciary duties.
For example, if a trustee does not make distributions to beneficiaries in compliance with the terms of the trust, the trustee may have breached his or her duty. If the trustee invests the proceeds of the trust in his or her own of speculative investments rather than making appropriate distributions, you may need to file a claim against the trustee for self-dealing and breach of duty. You may need to hire a qualified trust contest lawyer and petition the North Carolina court to remove the trustee.
If you have questions about trust distributions, trust accounting or administration of a trust in which you are a beneficiary, you should first contact the trustee. If the trustee does not address your concerns, then you should contact a trust litigation lawyer at Brady Cobin Law Group to review the situation.
- Constructive Trusts
A constructive trust is a type of trust created by a court. Typically, a trust is created by a person for the purpose of conveying assets and property to a trustee, who will then distribute the assets to the named trust beneficiaries. A constructive trust is imposed by a court, typically in circumstances when a trustee has breached his duties when handling trust assets. Constructive trusts are only available in limited circumstances.
If you believe a family member intended certain assets to be used for a specific purpose, we can argue that a trust was created without a written agreement. Constructive trusts are used as a vehicle to restore any losses that a plaintiff had because of abuse of trust. In some situations, a constructive trust can require a trustee to make payments to reimburse a trust or designate a new trustee and assign them new duties.
If you are concerned that a loved one’s true intentions are not being honored, we may be able to help you pursue a trust claim. If you are a trustee, we can help you defend against such claims. To schedule an initial consultation, please contact our office.
How to Contest a Trust in North Carolina
The laws governing trusts in North Carolina are complex and often subtle. As part of our firm’s focus on estate law, we assist clients with trust creation, trust administration and litigation, beneficiary disputes, disputes over capacity, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and financial exploitation. Our years of legal practice in this area of law provide us with a well-rounded understanding of how trust agreements and obligations can be enforced or challenged.
If you are concerned that a loved one’s true intentions are not being honored, the trust litigation lawyers at Brady Cobin Law Group may be able to help you pursue a trust contest or claim against a trustee. If you are a trustee, we can help you defend against such claims. Our attorneys can review your case, answer your questions and discuss your legal options. We take pride in the professional and personalized legal service we provide clients and the long-term relationships we build with many clients. To schedule an initial consultation, please contact our office.
Attorney R. Dan Brady has practiced law since 1982. Dan is recognized by the North Carolina State Bar as a Board-Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. Only a small percentage of lawyers in North Carolina hold the designation of North Carolina State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. Dan also brings the financial knowledge of a Certified Public Accountant to tax issues that arise as part of trust creation and administration. Attorney Andrew J. Cobin focuses on helping individuals and families establish more financially secure lives through careful estate planning including, in some situations, the creation of family trusts. Before entering private practice, Andrew previously served our nation as a judge advocate general in the U.S. Navy for seven years. The attorneys at Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC focus on understanding our clients’ financial needs and building quality, long- lasting attorney-client relationships.
My wife and I had a great estate planning experience with Andrew and the whole Brady-Cobin crew. Estate planning can be an uncomfortable and daunting topic, but Andrew and Elizabeth made it very easy, understandable, and took the time to answer all our questions. We highly recommend them! Michael and Samantha Yahyapour