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Selection of Trustees May Avoid Trust and Estate Litigation

June 28, 2017

One of the most important decisions one makes is deciding on an estate plan that best fits one’s needs. If setting up a trust is chosen, then the careful selection of fiduciaries to manage the trust may help offset the possibility of trust and estate litigation. In New York, an experienced estate planning attorney can provide ongoing assistance in this regard.

Civil lawsuits attacking trusts and estates are increasing. One reason is attributed to bitterness over an heir being given less than the heir thought was fair. However, the selection of the trustee may also trigger a lawsuit if the individual is reluctant to handle the financial responsibility along with the interplay with family or other beneficiaries. The person chosen as a fiduciary could be overwhelmed with the tasks of managing a trust over the long term. This can be exacerbated if the estate plan is overly complex or the trust terms are vague as to what the maker of the trust intended.

Many professionals recommend appointing a trustee who works for a financial institution and is therefore less inclined to be influenced by emotions or personal relationships. However, it pays to be cautious in doing so, particularly if a financial firm chosen to act as a trustee later merges with a larger company. In those circumstances, some of the personal attention that a local or smaller firm may tout as an advantage could be lost. Conversely, smaller institutions may require a larger share of the trust’s assets due to the attention to detail these fiduciaries provide.

Regardless of the options that one chooses when setting up estate plans, it is difficult to plan for every possible scenario. New York residents who are working to establish their estate plans may gain greater insight and peace of mind by enlisting the assistance of an attorney experienced in this area of the law. The impartial advice of such a professional may help forestall the possibility of trust and estate litigation.

Source:, “Are Fiduciaries Setting Themselves Up to Be Sued?“, Matt Miller, June 16, 2017