A trust is a legal instrument, where a trustee, who can be an individual person or persons and/or a qualified corporate entity, holds the legal title to property for another person, called a beneficiary, who has a present or future beneficial interest in the trust. A trust created during the life of the settlor (i.e., the person who creates the trust) can be either “revocable” or “irrevocable.” Revocable trusts grant you the ability to retain control of all assets in the trust, allowing you to change the terms of the trust at any time. However, with irrevocable trusts, it is often significantly more difficult to revise the terms of the trust, and may require the consent of the beneficiaries, the court, or a trust protector. One reason for the creation of a trust is to avoid probate administration, as trusts can provide for the distribution of assets upon the death of the settlor. It can be desirable to avoid probate administration as probate administration can be costly, the case file is public record, and the probate administration process is slower than trust administration. However, there are situations where beneficiaries or other interested individuals can challenge the trust or specific terms of the trust, can challenge the qualifications or actions of the trustee(s), can seek clarification regarding potential ambiguities in the trust, and/or can seek modifications of trust provisions. These examples, among others, warrant the practice of trust litigation.
Trust litigation is a complex area of the law. A trustee is responsible for the administration of the trust, as well as upholding numerous fiduciary duties that the law and/or trust impose on the individual or corporate entity serving as trustee. Litigation can arise when the trustee fails to put the interests of the beneficiaries above everything else, excluding the adherence to the trustee’s duties under the law. As a result, beneficiaries can allege malfeasance on the part of the trustee for various reasons, such as mismanagement of trust assets, illegal disposal of trust assets, failure to account, and diversion of trust assets to the trustee.
Additionally, personal representatives and trustees may find themselves, as interested persons, named as a defendant to a lawsuit involving an estate or trust. Such lawsuits may seek to rescind the will or trust, remove the personal representative or trustee, or recover assets from the personal representative or trustee, personally, for alleged wrongdoing. In such cases, a personal representative or trustee should retain an experienced and highly-trained probate and trust litigation attorney for representation. While the fiduciary often has statutory entitlement to pay their attorney from the assets in the estate or trust, there are specific requirements that must be complied with in order to properly use the assets for attorney’s fees.
Here at Chepenik Trushin LLP, we pride ourselves on being an experienced team of legal professionals catering to clients in need of probate and trust litigation services. We assertively represent clients in Miami, South Florida, and across the nation in order to protect their rights and beneficial interests. Our firm represents clients in litigation involving:
- Will contests
- Probate litigation
- Trust litigation
- Alleged malfeasance by executors, trustees, and administrators
- Financial abuse of the elderly
Our team of attorneys and paralegals are committed to achieving our clients' goals and protecting their rights. The founders of Chepenik Trushin LLP, collectively, have more than 30 years of experience in probate, trust, and litigation matters. Bradley H. Trushin’s experience has led to him being asked to author a chapter in the 2015 edition of Strategies for Trusts and Estates in Florida, part of the Inside the Mind series.
Our firm understands the many aspects of probate and trust litigation. We have extensive experience in business disputes and financial matters involving complex transactions and can apply this experience in the investigation of probate and trust administration and litigation matters. We also have the ability to organize our research and present a story in probate court that is clear, compelling, and persuasive. We will work diligently to build a strong case on your behalf.
Call Chepenik Trushin LLP at (305) 981-8889 or contact us online.