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Trust disputes, sham trusts and offshore disputes

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Trust disputes can arise for a variety of reasons and, because the law on trusts is not always straight forward, legal disputes can often have serious consequences on both the trust and for its beneficiaries.

At Forbes, we have a specialist, dedicated team of solicitors who specialise solely in trust disputes, allowing us to deal with cases of any size, from issues relating to a small family Will or trust, to large, complex trusts with an international element. Our expert solicitors work alongside an international network of specialists, giving us unrivalled experience of dealing with cases that are of high value and with an international element.

Trusts can be unwritten or can be created by a Will or by a trust deed, and often trustees find the position thrust upon them. Trustees have a list of fairly complex and sometimes onerous duties, which include acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries, acting impartially and a duty to be ready with accounts. Because of this, legal disputes can often arise in a range of circumstances, including:

  • Feuding beneficiaries. This could be one of the trust beneficiaries at loggerheads with other beneficiaries, or it could be the trustee faced with various demands from different beneficiaries.
  • Breach of trust. If a trustee has not acted in accordance with their duties or have not acted in the best interests of the beneficiaries, then they may be in breach of trust.
  • Sham trusts. If a trust appears to create legal rights and obligations which are different from the actual legal rights and obligations which the parties intend to create, then the trust may be a 'sham' and subject to challenge.
  • Issues relating to trust administration. If you suspect that a trustee has not properly administered a trust, then there may be a breach of trust.
  • Claims by, or against, trusts. Claims come in a wide variety of forms, and if you are faced with a claim, then get in touch with our team for a free, no obligation consultation
  • Beneficiaries' and third-party entitlement to information. Beneficiaries and third parties are only entitled to certain information about a trust, which can result in disputes.
  • Removal of trustees. If a trustee is in breach of trust or is unsuitable to act as trustee, then an application can be made for their removal.
  • Protecting trust assets. If you suspect trust assets are being misused or are being dissipated, then you need to act quick. We can advise you on action that can be taken, including applying for an injunction.

What is a breach of trust?

A 'breach of trust' is an act (or a failure to act) by a trustee that is not authorised either by the trust document or by law. This could include:

  • A trustee distributing assets to a beneficiary who is not entitled to them under the terms of the trust document.
  • A trustee investing the trust fund in a way not permitted by the express or statutory powers of investment.
  • A trustee breaching a fiduciary duty - for example, the duty to bring trust property under their control and act impartially.

At Forbes, our expert team act for beneficiaries in bringing claims against trustees where they are in breach of trust, as well as acting for trustees in defending such actions. For more information, or to speak to our expert team, contact us today.

What are the time limits for bringing a breach of trust claim?

For the majority of trust disputes, the limitation period in which you can file a claim is normally 6 years from the date of knowledge of the breach, unless fraud is alleged.

Time is often critical in trust disputes, particularly if you suspect that a trust's assets are being misused or dissipated. If you are a trustee, you are under an obligation to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and protect the trust assets, so it is imperative that you seek legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

Can a beneficiary dissolve a trust in a dispute?

In some circumstances, if all the current and remainder beneficiaries agree, a trust can be dissolved. Generally the manner by which a trust can be brought to end depends on the type of trust. In cases such as this, all of the trust's income and assets are distributed to its beneficiaries. For more information about dissolving a trust, contact our team of international trust dispute solicitors.

Trust dispute solicitors

The Contentious Trusts and Probate team at Forbes have significant experience in a wide range of trust issues, from complex trusts with an offshore element, charitable trusts and SIPP/SSAS pension trusts to Will trusts.

Our expert team have acted on behalf of trustees, beneficiaries and third parties in relation to all manner of trust disputes. If you have any issues at all relating to a trust, call our Contentious Trusts and Probate team on 0800 689 3607 for a free, no obligation consultation, and we can tell you how we can help.

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Our dedicated Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team

Cassine Bering

Cassine Bering

Paralegal

Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts

PinPreston

Call01772220256

Elizabeth Whitaker

Elizabeth Whitaker

Associate

Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts

PinPreston

Call01772 220198

Jane Burbidge

Jane Burbidge

Partner

Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts

PinPreston

Call01772 220156

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Contact Us

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Call0800 975 2463

CallRequest a call back

EmailSend us an email

Contacting Us

Monday to Friday: 09:00 to 17:00
Saturday and Sunday: Closed