Trust Litigation

Memphis Trust Litigation Lawyers

Attorneys for Disputes Between Trustees and Beneficiaries in Shelby County

When a trust is executed and administered properly, it can provide many benefits for both the settlor and the beneficiaries, including protecting assets from probate, creditor claims, and estate taxes, and providing beneficiaries with much-needed financial support. However, a number of issues may arise throughout the lifetime of the trust that raise questions about its validity and proper administration, which can lead to legal disputes between trustees and beneficiaries.

At Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law, we represent both trustees and beneficiaries in trust litigation. We are experienced in both the creation and administration of trusts, and we have a thorough understanding of the requirements of a valid trust and the duties of a trustee. We are committed to helping clients in Memphis and Shelby County ensure that trusts are administered lawfully and according to the settlor’s wishes.

Duties of a Trustee in Tennessee

A trustee is a person chosen by the settlor to hold the trust’s assets, manage them, and distribute them to the settlor’s chosen beneficiaries. Under Tennessee law, trustees have many important duties to the settlor and beneficiaries, including:

  • The duty to administer the trust according to the terms established by the settlor
  • The duty to administer the trust in the beneficiaries’ interests, rather than seeking to benefit from the assets themselves
  • The duty to administer the trust impartially when there are multiple beneficiaries
  • The duty to protect the assets in the trust and manage them prudently
  • The duty to use special skills or expertise in administering the trust if chosen by the settlor because of those skills
  • The duty to keep records of the administration of the trust and inform beneficiaries of any important matters, including notifying them within 60 days when an irrevocable trust is funded

Any violation of these duties is considered a breach of trust, and a beneficiary or co-trustee can file a claim against the trustee who committed the breach. We represent trust beneficiaries seeking redress for breaches of trust related to self-dealing, mismanagement, and malfeasance. We can help you hold the trustee accountable by seeking a court order for the trustee to remedy his or her behavior and provide financial compensation for losses related to the breach, or an order for the suspension or removal of the trustee.

We also represent beneficiaries seeking to contest the validity of the trust itself. You may have grounds to contest a trust if you have reason to believe it was created fraudulently, under duress or undue influence, by mistake, or with lack of testamentary capacity on the part of the settlor, or if you believe the trust was revoked by the settlor before his or her death.

Trustee Defense in Memphis

Not every claim against a trust or a trustee is legally valid, and we also help trustees in their duty to defend the trust from claims against it. If you have made every effort to administer the trust according to your duties and the wishes of the settlor, we will help you present a defense that makes this clear. It is important to know that trustees are not liable for the simple fact of a decrease in value of the assets in the trust unless a breach of trust was committed, and if your performance is called into question, we can help you demonstrate that you managed the trust with reasonable care and caution. Trustees can also not be held liable for actions for which a beneficiary provided written consent, and a beneficiary cannot make a claim against a trustee more than one year after being sent information or possessing actual knowledge of facts that made them aware of a potential breach. We will do everything in our power to protect you from these sorts of improper claims from beneficiaries.

Contact an Arlington, TN Trust Litigation Lawyer

Trust disputes can often be complicated, and in order to achieve the outcome you are seeking, your best option is to hire an experienced attorney who can review all of the details of the case, advise you on the best course of action, and represent you in probate court. We offer free phone consultations when you contact us at 901-388-5805, and we serve clients throughout Shelby County and the surrounding areas, including in Memphis, Bartlett, Collierville, Millington, Arlington, Germantown, and Lakeland.