Sibling rivalry and inter-generational bickering have driven the number of people contesting family trusts to record levels this year, according to new figures.
Lawyers say that families are often more fragmented, with divorce and remarriage routine. They are also taking squabbles over family-owned wealth to court.
Matthew Yates, a partner at law firm Hunters said cases involving trusts going to court do not always involve a claim against a fellow trustee. Claims can encompass trust administration; claims by or against trustees; disputes between trustees; disputes between beneficiaries; variation of trusts, or removing a trustee.
In spite of rising trust disputes heading to the High Court, Mr Yates said mediation could provide a cheaper way to resolve a trust conflict.
“Where there may need to be an ongoing relationship between the trustees and the beneficiaries after the disagreement has been dealt with, a non-adversarial approach could provide long-term benefits,” says Mr Yates.
“Although the court may need to rubber-stamp agreements reached between the parties after alternative dispute resolution has taken its course, those costs will be far lower than a full-blown trial, and the possibility of rebuilding relationships is far more likely.”
Experts also recommend that trustees manage beneficiaries’ expectations by giving a clue, typically written guidance, as to the person’s reasoning for creating the trust and how he or she envisaged it might be run.
Read the full article in the FT here.