This is the next post in my discussion on the handling of Trust disputes in San Bernardino, California. My last article discussed when one has a claim against a Trustee. Whether one has a claim tends to be an area of misunderstanding; beneficiaries will only be able to bring claims against Trustees under certain circumstances. In this article, I will be addressing another important topic – who it is that pays the legal fees related to such cases. If you are involved in a Trust dispute, then it is important that you contact an experienced attorney immediately.
There are many reasons why beneficiaries may wish to bring legal action against a Trustee. These were discussed in my last article and I will not rehash them here. It is important to understand, however, that if the beneficiaries wish to bring a case against the Trustee then they will typically pay their legal fees and costs out of pocket. They will typically not be reimbursed, even if they win the dispute. This means that a beneficiary must weigh the costs against the potential benefits of the challenge they wish to bring. If a beneficiary feels the Trustee has wasted $10,000 of the Trust’s money, then it may not make sense to pay $11,000 in legal fees in order to bring a claim to Court.
Trustees tend to be in a very different situation when it comes to the payment of legal fees. If an action is brought against the Trustee, then their fees will typically be paid by the Trust. They will have to repay the Trust for legal fees if it is shown that they breached their responsibilities and that they acted in bad faith. This means that a beneficiary, who wishes to file a challenge, runs a double risk. If, for example, it is believed that a Trustee wasted the Trust’s money. Now say that the beneficiaries file a challenge in which a beneficiary spends $10,000, out of pocket, for legal fees. The Trust then spends $15,000 defending the suit. If the Trustee is found to have not acted in bad faith, then the beneficiaries will have lost $25,000 ($10,000 spent prosecuting the action and $15,000 they would have received from the Trust). This type of financial calculation should be considered when one is bringing claims against a Trustee.
If you are unhappy with how a California Trust is being administered, then contact a lawyer immediately. Counsel will help you to understand your options and will analyze the facts of the case. He or she will then be able to give you an assessment as to whether it is worth it to file suit. There may be instances in which bringing a case makes financial sense and there will be instances where it does not. As a San Bernardino Trust dispute attorney, I regularly handle such matters and I believe in giving all of my clients an honest assessment of their situation. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. I also service Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, Victorville, Rialto, Hesperia, Chino, Upland, Apple Valley, Redlands, Highland, Colton, Yucaipa, Montclair, elsewhere in the Inland Empire, as well as Los Angeles.