Trust Dispute Lawyers

Acting as a Trustee brings with it an obligation to fulfil many different duties and to comply with various statutory requirements. This can result in various issues, such as:

  • Disagreements between trustees as to how the trust should be managed;
  • Wanting to remove one or more trustees;
  • Trustees no longer wishing/being able to comply with their duties;
  • The need to appoint new trustees where a trustee is removed or retires;
  • Disputes between beneficiaries and trustees; and
  • Claims against trustees for breach of duties owed to beneficiaries.

We have significant experience in acting for trustees and beneficiaries in all of these circumstances, as well as many others. Numerous members of our team are members of ACTAPS, the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists, and can truly say they specialise in work of this nature.

Whether you are a trustee or a beneficiary, if you need assistance or advice in respect of any disputes involving trusts, our specialist team can help.

Contact Us

We provide advice on a wide range of legal issues to clients around Yorkshire and beyond from our offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield. For an initial discussion about your case, contact one of our specialist solicitors today by calling 0333 323 5292. Alternatively, please complete our questionnaire and return it to us so we can contact you.

What is The Role of a Trustee?

A trustee looks after property and wealth for another person, typically for a charity or for the inheritance of a minor or other individual who cannot manage their own affairs. The difference between an executor and a trustee is the executor distributes the assets according to the dictates of a will, while a trustee looks after an inheritance on behalf of another individual, managing the funds over time. The trustee is responsible for:

  • Ensuring the wishes for the trust laid out in the deed get carried out
  • Ensuring that tax is paid
  • Paying the beneficiaries
  • Keeping accurate records
  • Investing the funds with due care
  • Keeping the beneficiaries updated about the finances of the trust

  The trustee must:

  • Act impartially for the benefit of the beneficiaries
  • Act with as much care and skill as possible – for example, a professional would be expected to act with more skill and knowledge than a private individual
  • Ensure that the assets of the trust are protected
  • Review investments at least once a year
  • Keep accurate records
  • Act in the interests of the trust rather than themselves and not benefit from the trust

Trustees cannot take a salary for their duties unless this was specified within the trust deeds.

Where a trust has multiple trustees, the scope of the responsibilities of a trustee can lead to a range of disagreements over how to administer the trust. If you are involved in a dispute over a trust, then contact Lupton Fawcett on 0333 323 5292 for advice.

The Team

The team at Lupton Fawcett has experience in dealing with all types of disputes over trusts and many of our solicitors are members of ACTAPS, the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists.

Where possible, we always aim to settle the dispute out of court, but sometimes litigation is necessary. If this is the case, we will work hard to bring the dispute to court quickly and efficiently.

So as to help you understand some of the terms often involved with trusts, take a look at our glossary of common terms.

Why Choose Lupton Fawcett?

Having advised and supported many local families, individuals and businesses, we are proud to offer clients a dedicated service from specialist solicitors who are experts in their field:

We're Award Winning

Multi-award winning - Yorkshire Team of the Year, Regional Employment Team of the Year, Employment Law Lawyer of the Year

We're Connected

We're connected to the people, businesses and infrastructure throughout Yorkshire

We Put You First

You can be sure to expect superb client service from us. Our clients are our priority

We're Your Law Firm

Your problems are real but how we approach them makes all the difference

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Will valid?

You can validly leave your entire estate on the back of a cigarette pack.  There are however strict formalities that must be complied with in respect of the signing the Will and witnessing of it.  However, even if you have a complicated, official looking Will drawn up by a solicitor your last testamentary wishes may never take effect if the Will is not correctly prepared, signed and witnessed.

A common issue that arises is that marriage usually revokes a Will. Another one is the impact of divorce to a pre-existing Will.  This is unfortunately often overlooked.

Signatures on Wills have been forged. People have pretended to be the testator and tricked the Will drafter. Often, those signing their Will have not had the testamentary capacity to understand the consequences of their Will. Sometimes people have been coerced into signing. Others have signed their Wills without knowing and approving what was in them.

A few have had their minds poisoned by others so that they have excluded those whom they truly love.  Sometimes people make a mistake on the face of the Will with serious consequences. All too often, a person’s signature has not been properly witnessed.  It is not uncommon for people to promise a person something in their Will and then fail to follow through with that promise.

If any of these circumstances apply then there may be grounds to challenge either the entirety of the Will or a specific part of it.

Our specialist team can help you with:

  • Challenges to the validity of Wills, involving, amongst other matters, lack of testamentary capacity, lack of knowledge and approval, undue influence, fraud, forgery or lack of due execution;
  • Claims involving full, half secret, resulting, constructive and sham trusts;
  • Situations where you have been promised something, often land, in return for doing something during the testator’s lifetime i.e. ‘estoppel’ cases;
  • Protecting your interest and/or claim via Citations, Caveats, Warnings, Appearances;
  • Claims involving the construction and/or rectification of the wording of a Will; and
  • Claims involving mutual and mirror Wills.

How do I get my fair share?

There are many ways in which a beneficiary can obtain his or her entitlement. This does not always involve or need the intervention of the Courts.

We have a good track record of ensuring clients receive their entitlement without the need for issuing court proceedings, whether through negotiation or via a more structured mediation process. When necessary, and only if appropriate, we will advise beneficiaries to commence court proceedings.

In some cases, those proceedings may be to challenge the validity of a Will because an earlier one reflects the true last testamentary wishes of the deceased.  In other cases, those proceedings may be brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (commonly referred to as “the Inheritance Act”) to ensure that a dependant receives reasonable financial provision which has not been provided for by the Will.

I am an Executor and Trustee. Can you help me?

We act for both professional and lay executors and trustees in a wide array of cases involving disputed estates and trusts.

Sometimes, the advice given amounts to little more than guidance or reassurance to a lay trustee who needs confirmation that their decision as to how to proceed with a particular problem is appropriate and within the scope of their duty.

On other occasions, our involvement has related to executors propounding (proving) the validity of Wills and trustees seeking permission from the Court to issue proceedings for the benefit of the trust fund.

We can help you with:

  • Proceedings that you can bring to propound (prove) the validity of a Will;
  • Disputes you may have with beneficiaries or with your co-executors/trustees;
  • Bringing proceedings to rectify a mistake in a Will;
  • Proceedings to revoke a grant issued to someone other than you;
  • Applications that you can make to the Court for the Court’s approval for your actions (a “Beddoe Application”);
  • Injunctions in the course of or before proceedings; and
  • Any type of proceedings, including professional negligence claims, to recover losses to the estate/trust.

Can I remove the Executors and Trustees?

Some executors/trustees have taken from the estate for their own benefit. Others should not continue to act because they have done so poorly,or even negligently.

Trustees can be removed from office or they can give up their positions voluntarily. They can be removed either before or after they have taken up their duties officially. Ideally, it is often best to try and persuade an executor or trustee to renounce their office voluntarily, but sometimes, where they have intermeddled in the affairs of the estate or trust, this may not be possible and a Court order may be required.

Conversely, there may be a situation where you want to force a named executor to take out or refuse a grant of probate.

We can help you with:

  • Applications to pass over a named executor or trustee before they have taken office;
  • Applications to remove or replace an executor or trustee after they have taken office;
  • Instructions to executors to accept, refuse or take a grant or to prove a Will; and
  • Proceedings to make an executor or trustee account for monies;

Do I have to go to court?

Court proceedings should be viewed as being the last option.  All too often, parties launch into litigation without proper consideration of its consequences.

Sometimes, however, Court proceedings are necessary where alternative methods of resolving disputes – often referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR – have failed to produce a satisfactory result.

The members of our team have amassed considerable ADR experience in resolving disputes at an early stage before they go anywhere near the Courts.

Mediation remains a popular method of resolving disputes. Most of our clients have enjoyed a positive experience from mediation, with over 80% resolving their differences with the other parties either at the mediation itself or shortly afterwards and as a direct result of what took place at it. Everything discussed at mediation is on a ‘without prejudice’ (i.e. confidential) basis and cannot, therefore, be referred to in Court at a later stage.

In addition, the Dispute Management Department has the benefit of the experience of having two accredited mediators: Paul Houghton and Howard Rutter.

There are many other ways of settling a dispute without the need for court proceedings. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to ADR.  Whatever the case we will work for you to help you decide what approach suits you best.

Get In Touch Today!

Get In Touch Today!

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