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Wills, Trusts & Estate Disputes

Trust Disputes

Our specialist lawyers can help you resolve trust disputes whether you’re a beneficiary or a trustee. We have extensive experience with many different trusts of varying complexity and value.

Trust disputes can arise for a variety of reasons and can have serious consequences for the trust and its beneficiaries. Negligent or fraudulent trustees can do lasting harm to a trust and its assets.

We can help if:

  • A trustee commits a negligent or fraudulent breach of trust
  • A trustee ignores a breach of trust by a co-trustee
  • A trustee neglects their duty to administer the trust efficiently
  • The trust document (that lays out the terms of the trust) is vague, unclear, or contains mistakes
  • The person who set up the trust (known as the settlor) lacked mental capacity to do so or was unduly influenced into it
  • The settlor received negligent legal or tax advice when creating the trust
  • The trust documents don’t accurately reflect the settlor’s wishes
  • The trust prevents creditors or financial dependents from claiming assets from an estate
  • The trust is a sham to try and disguise real legal ownership of the assets.

For Trustees

In many instances, we represent trustees who are facing challenges by beneficiaries or difficult requests for information from beneficiaries.

For Beneficiaries

If you think that a trust is being mismanaged or that you are receiving less than expected from a trust or estate or if there are issues of disclosure of trust documents, we can help ensure assets are protected and distributed correctly.

As one of the largest Wills, Trusts & Estate Disputes teams in the country, we have the resources and experience to deal with trusts of any size. We also have extensive experience with international assets and wealth management structures.

Call us today on 0345 604 4895 – or fill out our online form and we’ll call you back.

Offices in 14 locations across the country
24/7 advice on our Will Disputes Helpline
One of the largest trusts disputes teams in the UK
Specialist mediators available to resolve disputes out of court

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Trust Disputes - More Information
    • Who Can Make A Claim?
    • Generally, it is the beneficiaries of the trust who will make a claim against it. However, it could be anyone with an interest in it, including:

      • One or more of the trustees
      • A spouse in a divorce
      • Creditors.

      This is just a potential list of claimants and isn’t exhaustive.

    • How Do I Contest A Trust?
    • Making a claim will differ slightly depending on the circumstances of your dispute, but it’s usually made up of the same steps:

      1. Investigation

      We’ll examine any documents and accounts relating to the trust.

      If relevant, we may also gather medical evidence about the deceased, to understand their condition when they settled the trust. This would be particularly important in disputes over whether or not someone had mental capacity to settle a trust.

      We might also get witness statements from those who knew the deceased, to better understand the full circumstances in which the trust was created.

      These investigations will help us confirm whether you can make a claim, and what type of claim it will be.

      2. Mediation

      Most disputes can be settled by an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation. This means that you don’t have to go to court, which can be costly and time-consuming.

      Mediation typically takes place on one day, with a professionally trained mediator present as a neutral third party. The mediator’s role is to try to help you reach an agreement with the executor and the other beneficiaries.

      3. Court

      Some disputes cannot be resolved by mediation. If this is the case, the matter will have to be settled in court. This is rare, however – and if it does happen, we have the expertise to secure the best outcome for you.

      Whatever the circumstances of your dispute, we’ll support you every step of the way – and we’ll give you a clear idea at the start of how long we think it will take, and the outcome we think you can expect.

    • How Much Does It Cost? Who Pays?
    • The cost of a Will, trust or estate dispute varies from case to case, depending on time, complexity, and whether or not you have to go to court.

      A dispute can be settled at any time if the parties can come to an agreement, and they can then decide how to split the costs between them. However, if an agreement can’t be reached and the case has to go to court, the court will decide how the costs will be paid.

    • How Can I Cover The Cost Of My Claim?
    • There are various ways you can cover the cost of your claim, depending on your case. These include:

      • Legal Expenses Insurance
      • Conditional Fee Agreement (‘No Win No Fee’)
      • Payment on conclusion
      • Private monthly billing.

      We understand that funds and assets may be tied up in the disputed estate, and we’ll be as flexible as possible to ensure that’s not another worry on your mind. We’ll discuss the different payment options with you at the start.

      Your first consultation with us is completely free, and there’s no obligation to continue.

    • Do I Have To Come To The Irwin Mitchell Offices?
    • We understand that the death of a loved one can be a distressing and difficult time, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure your claim is as stress-free as possible.

      We’re happy to meet with you at one of our offices – or if you prefer, we can deal with everything by phone or email. We can also come and meet you at a place that’s convenient for you.

      We have clients across the country and will always strive to make everything as convenient for you as possible.

    • Meet The Team
    • Our Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team is the largest in the UK and we have offices across the country. We are experienced in managing high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth claims as well as less complex ones.

      We’ve resolved some of the country’s most high-profile disputes and are particularly experienced with the unique challenges of multi-jurisdictional wealth management structures, rural property and inheritance tax.

      We are recommended by the leading legal guides and pride ourselves on the strong relationship we build with our clients in what is often a very trying time.

      Meet the team

My legal team has held my hand throughout, they have been incredibly patient and understanding"

Joy Williams, client

Frequently Asked Questions

Does It Matter If The Trust Has A ‘No Contest’ Clause?

A “no contest” or “forfeiture” clause in a trust means that you forfeit your interest in the trust if you legally challenge the trust and lose.

You do not forfeit anything if your challenge is successful.

A no contest clause is only valid if it’s written clearly and you can understand exactly how you can lose your interest. The clause must also cohere with public policy and the jurisdiction of the court.

If you have been affected by a no contest clause, our lawyers may be able to prove that it doesn’t meet these criteria and that it is invalid. This could help you keep your interest in the trust even if you’ve challenged it unsuccessfully.

If you would like to challenge a trust but are worried about a no contest clause, call us today on 0345 604 48950 to find out how we can help.

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What Are The Grounds For Contesting A Trust?

You may be able to contest a trust if:

  • It’s a ‘sham trust’ that is intentionally deceptive and doesn’t reflect the settlor’s or trustees’ true intentions
  • The settlor, rather than the beneficiaries, is the true beneficial owner of trust assets
  • The trust was established to protect assets from creditors, a divorced spouse, or claims under the Inheritance Act
  • The settlor did not have the required mental capacity to create the trust
  • The settlor was unduly influenced into creating the trust.

If you suspect that you’re affected by an invalid trust, we may be able to help you make a challenge. Contact us online for more information.

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Awards & Accreditations

We're always proud to be recognised for the work we do for our clients and have been named as a leading firm in the latest legal guides - which provide information and recommendations about lawyers and law firms in the UK.

UK Chambers & Partners Leading Firm 2018 Private Client Team of the Year - Legal Business Awards 2018 Leading Firm - Legal 500 2017

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