Since valuable assets and money are involved in trust disputes, they tend to be costly, time-consuming and emotionally draining processes that interfere with family or beneficiary relations. Therefore, if disputes arise, beneficiaries and trustees often look for alternative methods to solve their issues, like using a mediator.
Trust disputes in Delaware
There are many reasons why trust disputes occur. However, the most common ones include the following:
- Breach of fiduciary duty – The trustee has a legal obligation to always act in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the trust. If the beneficiaries feel like the trustee isn’t protecting and properly distributing the assets, estate disputes may arise.
- Questioning trust validity – As a beneficiary, you need to be confident that the trust is legally valid and that the grantor was at their best mental capacity when writing it. If you have reason to believe that the grantor was coerced or if there’s an element of fraud, you can challenge the trust.
- Modifying the original trust – There are situations where the beneficiaries or the trust may attempt to modify the terms of the original trust. In such situations, either of you will file a petition demonstrating why you need those changes to be made.
Mediating trust disputes
Mediation is one of the alternative dispute resolution methods. It’s called alternative because it happens outside the court, but the terms of the resolution that you reach will be legally binding. A trained mediator with experience in probate issues conducts this session.
The mediator doesn’t have the authority to make decisions for you. Instead, their job is to facilitate you to analyze the basis of your conflict, have a healthy discussion concerning your issues and explore the best possible solutions that will satisfy you and the trustee or the other beneficiaries.
Remember that when you sign the written settlement agreement, the outcome of the whole process is binding. You will need sufficient evidence and a good argument that will make sense to the conflicting party.
Many people prefer mediation because it’s private, less time-consuming and cheaper when compared to court. It can’t resolve every trust dispute, but mediation is often helpful.