An Effective Strategy for Disputes with Beneficiaries

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Trusts & Estates Magazine, (March 2016) Administration of a trust requiring distributions to more than one beneficiary can be fraught with disputes. The specific disputed issues can be anything, but the goal for the beneficiary raising the issue is, more often than not, the same—a larger share of the trust estate. In an effort to resolve disputes, the trustee, however, may need to spend trust assets, whether to negotiate a settlement or, if negotiations fail, to hire outside counsel and/or initiate legal proceedings. With the value of the trust estate reduced as a result, the trustee risks facing even more objections from beneficiaries that cause additional cost and delay in distributions. How can a trustee administer the trust and make distributions with minimal cost to the trust estate when faced with beneficiaries who continue to object? The answer may lie in proactively initiating a proceeding in a court with the relevant expertise and experience.

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