Trust Litigation Attorneys in Scottsdale
Should You Create a Trust?
People often create trusts to avoid dealing with probate and keep a family’s affairs out of the public record. Despite this, concerns about a trustee’s possible wrongdoing or the trust document itself can serve as the basis for civil lawsuits in probate court. If you are a party to such a dispute, you need experienced and professional legal representation.
Mazza Law can provide the legal counsel and services required to pursue one’s interests in a trust dispute. We can represent trustees who have been accused of engaging in wrongdoing as well as beneficiaries who need to hold trustees accountable for acting improperly with the trust’s assets.
We are also capable of representing any party who needs to take legal action with regard to the trust document itself.
For more information about our services, read below or get in touch with us today. You can contact us online or call (602) 536-7609 to reach a Scottsdale trust litigation attorney at Mazza Law for assistance.
How Our Legal Services Can Help
There are a number of reasons for which trust litigation may become necessary. Most, however, are the result of allegations that a trustee has breached his or her fiduciary duty or because there are validity challenges to the trust.
The following are common legal actions that are brought against trustees:
- Compelling Trustees to Account
- Removal of Trustees
- Obtaining Trust Information
- Compel Return of Property to Trust
- Misappropriation of Trust Assets
- Failure to Prudently Manage the Trust
Trust validity challenges are commonly sought through the following legal actions:
- Modification of Trust by Consent of the Beneficiaries
- Modification or Termination for Changed Circumstances
- Disposition of Trust Property on Termination
- Invalidate a Trust Amendment on Forgery and Undue Influence
Is a Trustee Acting Improperly?
Under normal circumstances, a trust’s management and administration are not supervised by the court. Whereas during the probate of one’s estate the court enforces the actions of the personal representative, there is no entity enforcing the actions of a trustee in matters concerning the trust.
This means the beneficiaries of a trust are responsible for taking legal action if they believe their rights are not being protected or that the wishes of the deceased are not being honored. Under these circumstances, the beneficiaries of a trust can take legal action to enforce an alleged breach of the trustee’s fiduciary duty to them and the terms of the trust.
Our trust litigation attorneys in Scottsdale have helped clients with situations such as the following:
- The trustee has mingled their personal finances with the trust account. If efforts are not taken to distinguish between personal and trust funds, a breach has occurred.
- The trustee may have a conflict of interest when they have personal reasons to act in a manner that contradicts or strays from the deceased’s wishes and the best interests of the beneficiaries.
- A trustee is using the trust as a personal bank account. The trustee is not permitted to profit or borrow from the trust or engage in any other transaction that would personally benefit them.
- A trustee fails to act in an effort to stop a co-trustee or another party from taking action that breaches the terms of the trust or a trustee’s fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries.
- A trustee fails to communicate with beneficiaries, especially when it appears as if nothing is occurring to move the process toward distribution or if accounting has not been rendered.
Trustors who wish to further limit the potential for a lawsuit involving their trust may sometimes include a no-contest clause. While such a clause doesn’t prevent the possibility of legal action, it can impose sanctions against any beneficiary who challenges the terms of the trust.
Importantly, no-contest clauses don’t apply to a dispute concerning a trustee’s actions or questions a beneficiary may have about the trust’s administration.
Current & Remainder Beneficiaries
A trust may have two different types of beneficiaries: current and remainder. A current beneficiary is someone with the right to receive income or principal distributions from a trust. A remainder beneficiary is someone for whom trust benefits are bestowed at a later time.
If you are a beneficiary, you are entitled to information about that trust, but there are some limits that depend upon several factors. For example, a revocable trust can be revoked by the settlor (trust maker) at any given time, so beneficiaries have few rights to information about the trust until the settlor dies. At that point, the trust becomes irrevocable.
The following are several common rights granted to the beneficiaries of irrevocable trusts:
- Payment: Current beneficiaries are entitled to trust distributions as described in the trust document.
- Information: Current and remainder beneficiaries are entitled to receive enough information about the trust and its administration to understand how or if they should enforce their rights.
- Accounting: Current beneficiaries have the right to receive an accounting of the trust.
- Removal of the Trustee: Current and remainder beneficiaries are entitled to petition the court to remove a trustee if there is a belief that this individual isn’t acting in the interests of the beneficiaries or with regard for the deceased’s wishes.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
At Mazza Law, our trust litigation attorneys in Scottsdale can help clients who are involved in disputes concerning the actions of a trustee or the trust document itself. We understand these can be complicated cases to handle on both technical and emotional levels. Rest assured that our legal advocates can deliver effective legal representation with compassion during this difficult time.
Our energetic legal team blends high-level knowledge and legal skills with a warm, compassionate manner that sets us apart. Often our clients tell us how relieved they feel after their first consultation at Mazza Law. Many clients are surprised at how a potentially difficult experience was made joyful by the experienced guidance of our attorneys. We take great care in how we partner with our clients, working to meet your needs and deliver the best legal outcomes possible.
Over the years Mazza Law has grown because of word-of-mouth praise from both clients and those in the legal community. Attorney Danny Mazza has been identified as one of the top 2.5% of attorneys by Super Lawyers four years in a row (2017-2020). Most recently he was recognized by the Chief Justice of Arizona’s Supreme Court for his service on the Supreme Court’s Attorney Ethics Advisory Committee, as well as by the State Bar of Arizona for his term as a Governor.
We believe that these honors and accolades underscore why Mazza Law has been successful: our experience, involvement, and genuine dedication to the people we serve.
For more information about our firm and services, contact Mazza Law PLC online.