Here at The Mottley Law Firm, we are consulted daily by clients who are embroiled in a family estate dispute of some kind. Many of these situations involve the way a trust is being handled.
People create trusts for many reasons. Trusts are a popular way to protect a person’s assets from creditors, to avoid the probate process upon the person’s death, and to control how a person’s property is managed and distributed following their death. They allow for more flexibility.
When a person creates a trust, a “trustee” is appointed by the person in the trust agreement. It is the trustee’s job to manage the trust property in accordance with the wishes of the person who created the trust, as expressed in the trust agreement.
Choose Your Trustee Carefully
Unfortunately, people sometimes do not choose wisely when deciding who to appoint as their trustee. If a trustee mismanages the trust property, fails to follow the terms of the trust agreement, or fails to perform their job in accordance with the law, it is often necessary to involve the courts to address the situation. When a trustee has acted improperly, the trustee can be held personally liable (responsible) for damages. And the beneficiaries of the trust can bring an action in a Virginia circuit court to hold the trustee accountable. Many of these cases are referred to as “breach of trust” cases because the trustee has breached (failed to perform) their legal obligations in some way, resulting in damage to the trust and its beneficiaries.
In Virginia, trustees are governed by the Uniform Trust Act enacted by the General Assembly. They are also governed by the common law of Virginia, as expressed in the opinions of the Supreme Court of Virginia. The law in this area can be quite complex. For this reason, if you are involved in a dispute over the handling of a trust, or if you simply have questions about the terms of a trust, how a trust is being handled, or your rights with respect to a trust, then you should consult with a Virginia attorney experienced in handling breach of trust cases.
Trust and Estate Litigation Attorneys in Richmond, VA
When we are asked to provide advice relating to the handling of a trust, we start by offering an initial consultation for a fixed fee of $500. As part of the initial consultation, you will get up to one hour of our attorney’s time to discuss your situation with you, and you will receive some initial guidance from us as to what Virginia law says about your situation in our opinion. In most cases, this initial consultation results in the matter not proceeding further. But in some cases, legal action is necessary.