Avoiding/Settling Trust Disputes

We have the experience you need to help you avoid and settle trust disputes. Our attorneys have extensive experience in and out of the courtroom and also sit on the volunteer court settlement panel to help judges settle matters in their courtroom.

Potential Conflicts And Proactive Solutions: Examples Of How To Customize An Estate Plan

The best way to solve a conflict is to prevent it. We use many creative provisions in estate plans, including the following, to prevent potential conflicts:

  • A "Problem Spouse": Potential fighting between a surviving spouse and stepchildren can be addressed by giving the surviving spouse a gift of assets in the Living Trust conditioned upon that spouse's agreement not to claim any right to other property outside of the Living Trust. The spouse could only receive the trust assets if the spouse agrees in writing not to claim any interest in any of the assets passing outside of the Living Trust.
  • The "Problem Child": Give a neutral person the power to give certain assets in the Living Trust to a "Problem Child" if the child doesn't act up. The Problem Child will be on good behavior hoping to receive the trust assets. Now the child has incentive not to create problems because if she does, she won't get the assets.
  • The Unequal Trust Division: Target the No Contest Clause to the most likely contestant. If parents create a Living Trust that gives one daughter 80% of the assets and another daughter 20%, the Living Trust should have a No Contest Clause that only applies to the daughter receiving the 20%. The daughter receiving 80% of the assets certainly won't be the one to contest for fear of the No Contest Clause disinheriting her completely.
  • The Priceless Family Heirlooms: To prevent siblings from fighting about family heirlooms, an estate plan should include specific written instructions about who gets what. Alternatively, give a neutral third party the sole and exclusive power to make the final decision if children can't agree on a particular item.

You have a lot of control over what happens after you die. Talk to us about planning your estate properly, so that you reduce the chances of family feuds. And if the dispute has already risen, let's talk about ways to resolve it.