What Is a Trust Dispute?

A trust dispute refers to a disagreement or conflict that arises among parties involved in a trust arrangement. These parties typically include trustees, beneficiaries, and sometimes other interested parties.

It may arise where there is a disagreement about the terms of the trust or a relationship breakdown between the trustees and the beneficiaries. It is possible that negligent behaviour on behalf of trustees can result in a potential loss to the trust.

Typical examples as to why a dispute may arise include the following:

  • The trust document is unclear or vague or it does not accurately reflect the settlor’s intentions or wishes.

  • The settlor lacks the testamentary capacity to set up the trust.

  • The settlor retains too much control and the trust is a “sham”.

  • A trustee commits an act which is deemed reckless, negligent or fraudulent.

  • A trustee fails to act in accordance with their duties.

  • The beneficiaries are not receiving adequate information about the trust to which they are entitled.

If you believe any of the previous examples have occurred, or any other grounds for contesting that have caused a dispute regarding a trust, our expert team is here to help you find the resolution you feel is justified.

Types of Trust Disputes

There are various types of trust disputes, including:

  • Interpretation Disputes - A dispute that arises when there is ambiguity or disagreement over the interpretation of the language used in the trust documents.

  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty - Allegations of breach of fiduciary duty may arise if a trustee is accused of mismanagement, self-dealing, conflicts of interest, or other actions that harm the interests of the beneficiaries.

  • Validity Challenges - if there are allegations of fraud, undue influence, lack of capacity, or improper execution of the trust document, the trust's validity may be challenged.

  • Trustee Removal - Beneficiaries may seek to remove a trustee if they believe the trustee is unfit, incompetent, or otherwise failing to fulfil their fiduciary duties.

Dispute Resolutions

Trust disputes can be resolved through various methods, depending on the nature and complexity of the dispute, as well as the preferences of the parties involved. Most of the resolution approaches involve the intervention of legal professionals. These include:

  • Negotiation - Often trust disputes can be resolved through informal negotiations between the parties involved, facilitated by their respective legal representatives. This allows the parties to discuss their concerns in a less adversarial setting.

  • Mediation - Mediation involves a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties to find common ground, exploring potential solutions and working towards a mutually beneficial solution.

  • Arbitration - Arbitration is a more formal alternative to mediation where an impartial arbitrator or panel of arbitrators hears arguments and evidence from both sides and makes a binding decision to resolve the dispute.

  • Litigation - If informal methods of dispute resolution are unsuccessful or inappropriate, trust disputes may be resolved through litigation in court. This involves formal legal proceedings where each party presents their case to a jury, who decides the outcome.

  • Settlement - Even if a trust dispute is in the midst of litigation, parties may still have the opportunity to settle the dispute through negotiation or mediation. Settlement agreements allow parties to resolve their differences outside of court.

How Can Culver Law Help Me?

Our solicitors at Culver Law are experienced in assisting clients with trust disputes. Our expertise and understanding of the legal system means we are equipped to help you find a resolution to your dispute, even if it involves several different complexities. Our broad range of services are offered with compassion, putting your needs first to ensure a fair outcome. We offer a range of different ways to support you with your trust disputes, including:

  • Trust Litigation

  • Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

  • Trust Administration Assistance

  • Beneficiary Representation

  • Estate Planning Review

Why Choose Culver Law?

Culver Law provides the skilled guidance and unwavering support you need to navigate the complexities of trust disputes with confidence and clarity. Our experienced team of solicitors stands ready to champion your rights and interests with strategic expertise. For every client, we aim to demonstrate:

  • Expertise - Our solicitors are seasoned experts in trust law and dispute resolution, equipped with the knowledge and experience to navigate even the most intricate trust disputes with precision and proficiency.

  • Client-Centric Approach - At Culver Law, we appreciate that trust disputes can be both emotionally and financially taxing. That is why we place open communication and personalised attention as a priority, helping you feel empowered and reassured every step of the way.

  • Proven Track Record - We take great pride in supporting clients to reach their desired outcomes. We are committed to delivering results that exceed expectations, earning a reputation for excellence in trust dispute resolution.

  • Ethical Standards - Integrity, professionalism, and respect form the cornerstone of Culver Law’s practice. We promise to uphold the highest ethical standards to safeguard your trust and confidence in our representation.

  • Specialist Support for Audibly Impaired Individuals - Culver Law has a genuine interest in supporting the deaf community. All our staff have had (or are in the process of receiving) Deaf Awareness Training so our services can be accessible to all people.

If You Are Facing a Trust Dispute, We Are Here to Help

At Culver Law, we are committed to supporting those who are experiencing a trust dispute or need assistance with trust administration. Please get in contact with us so we can discuss the next step in finding the right solution.


Who can make a claim?

Parties who may have standing to make a claim in a trust dispute typically include trustees, beneficiaries named in the trust, successor beneficiaries, heirs at law, and sometimes other interested parties such as creditors or third-party claimants.

Can trust disputes be resolved without going to court?

Yes, trust disputes can often be resolved through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or negotiation, without the need for court intervention. However, if a resolution cannot be reached at this stage, litigation may be the next step.

How long does it take to resolve a trust dispute?

The duration of resolving a trust dispute varies depending on the complexity of the case, the willingness of parties to negotiate and the chosen dispute resolution process. Through negotiation, some cases can be resolved quickly, whilst others may take months or even years.

What are the potential outcomes of a trust dispute?

The potential outcomes of a trust dispute depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Possible resolutions include (but are not limited to) clarifying the interpretation of trust documents, modifying trust terms, removing or replacing trustees and distributing trust assets.

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Culver Law, Cambridge
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