In the realm of estate planning, fiduciaries play the role of distributing assets according to the wishes of a person who has passed away. Sometimes disputes arise regarding the actions of these fiduciaries, which can lead to a legal process called fiduciary estate litigation.
Role of the fiduciary
An individual usually appoints a fiduciary through a will or trust, and it can be an executor, trustee, administrator, or any other individual entrusted with managing and distributing assets. The primary responsibility of the fiduciary is to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries.
When someone brings a claim against a fiduciary in court, whether the individual is a beneficiary, heir, or any other interested party, they are challenging an action or decision of the fiduciary.
The litigation process
Common grounds for allegations in fiduciary litigation include:
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Mismanagement of assets
- Undue influence
- Will/Trust contests
The litigation process often involves filing a legal complaint, gathering evidence, and presenting a case in court. The court may respond by ordering the fiduciary to provide an accounting of their actions.
Fiduciary estate litigation can be emotionally and financially draining, and attorneys often solve these matters through negotiation, mediation, or settlement discussions between the opposing parties.
Resolving disputes amicably is often preferable to protracted court battles and allows for the preservation of relationships and the minimization of the impact on the assets within the estate.
When a fiduciary executes an estate plan, disputes can arise if a beneficiary, heir, or other involved party challenges an action by the fiduciary. If the court claim is successful, it may entitle the affected parties to restitution and compensation, depending on what the court deems appropriate.