In this conclusion of our series on Texas trust disputes, we highlight some of the more important points addressed in this series. Our previous installment tackled the payment of attorneys’ fees during a Texas trust dispute. In total, this series addressed the following topics:
- Overview—Texas Trust Disputes
- Texas Trusts Function According to These Basic Principles
- How to Identify When You Have a Texas Trust Claim
- Trust Beneficiaries in Texas Have a Set of Rights in Trust Disputes
- Texas Beneficiaries Have Claims Against Trustees Who Breach their Duties
- Trust Beneficiaries and Trustees Should Understand Who Pays Legal Fees in a Texas Trust Dispute
Now, we’d like to emphasize some of the most important topics in previous posts. Specifically, you should consider the following key points:
-Consider your role before entering a trust dispute. Are you a trustee or a beneficiary? Are you the beneficiary or a person who represents the interests of a beneficiary like a guardian or next friend? Do you have a current or future right to trust property? What are the specific terms of your trust?
-Trust disputes can arise from many types of conduct. Often, a trustee abuses trust power, misuses trust funds, or simply takes trust property for themselves. But there are more subtle paths to trust disputes, like a trustee’s refusal to communicate or share information.
-Trust beneficiaries have automatic rights. Those rights include receiving a copy of the trust document, receiving distributions required by the trust document, demanding an accounting of trust funds and property, and receiving information about the trust and the trustee’s activities. Legal action may be necessary to enforce those rights.
-Trustees have many strict duties. Trustees are fiduciaries and have corresponding duties, including the duty of loyalty, the duty of disclosure to beneficiaries, the duty to refrain from self-dealing, and the duty to protect and preserve trust assets. If a trustee is breaching those duties, a beneficiary may make a written demand to the trustee, ask a court to remove the trustee, or even file a lawsuit against the trustee.
-Texas law may allow reimbursement of your legal fees in trust disputes. Depending on the circumstances of your trust dispute, you may be entitled to reimbursement of your legal fees from trust funds. Sometimes a trustee or beneficiary is personally responsible for the legal fees incurred by their adversary. Ultimately, judges have discretion to decide who pays for legal fees as justice requires.
We hope this series gave you an understanding the rights and responsibilities involved in Texas trust disputes. Trustees and trust beneficiaries can feel overwhelmed by trust disputes, especially when a lawyer is involved. The Johnson Firm’s attorneys have the experience and know-how to help you navigate your own trust dispute. Our lawyers serve clients throughout Texas, including Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Midland, Odessa, and Fort Worth. We are standing by. Please contact us today.