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Tips to avoid litigation as a trustee

The title of trustee comes with some very serious responsibilities. For example, you must maintain control over the property owned by the trust and, furthermore, you must take steps to preserve it. This means that you will have to make decisions to protect the trust's assets, including prudent investing, communicating with the beneficiaries and following the terms of the trust.

Since the primary responsibility of a trustee is to manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries, you may find yourself encountering problems with the beneficiaries. If this happens, you might be forced to argue your position on decisions you have made in a courtroom. Fortunately, an experienced estate litigation attorney in the Pleasanton area can help you. Read further to find out more about avoiding litigation with beneficiaries.

Maintain impartiality

When managing a trust's distributions and investments, it is important to maintain total impartiality. If the trust you manage includes life beneficiaries and contingent remaindermen, you may be liable to both groups. Life beneficiaries are those that will receive distributions from the trust until their deaths. Contingent remaindermen are individuals or organizations that will receive any assets remaining from the trust when the last beneficiary passes away. In order to avoid litigation with these groups, you must manage the trust honestly.

Use independent judgment

If you are one of several trustees, you may find yourself at odds with the other managers. For example, you may disagree on certain investment approaches. If this happens, maintain your independent professional judgment. If a conflict between two trustees or a trustee and a beneficiary is threatening the effective management of the trust, then you may want to consider taking appropriate steps to remove the trustee.

Get instructions from a probate court

If there is a situation with the trust that you are uncertain about, one option is to seek instructions from the probate court. For example, if there are contradictory demands from beneficiaries or other trustees, if the trust documents are convoluted, or special circumstances arise, a probate court may be able to solve the issue for you. Primarily, this will provide you with additional protections from liability.

Managing a trust can often be very difficult. If you act in the best interest of the trust, but still find yourself in conflict with the beneficiaries or other trustees, it may be time to speak with a lawyer.

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