Being named executor/trustee is an honour and a serious responsibility. It means that someone trusts you to carry out his or her final wishes or take care of his or her family.
Among the duties of a trustee may be:
- Distributing property to beneficiaries, including money, real estate and personal possessions
- Dealing with government and administrative agencies, including the Canada Revenue Agency and insurance companies
- Taking care of money or investments set up for the benefit of minor children, disabled adults or other beneficiaries
- Keeping careful records of your actions
Trustees are expected to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, particularly when they are handling a trust for minor beneficiaries or helping to take care of disabled or incapacitated elderly persons.
For many trustees, these duties may be confusing and overwhelming, particularly when they have never performed them before, or are dealing with grief of their own.
Sometimes these duties are not carried out well, either through lack of knowledge, incompetence or dishonesty or because of problems in the Will. Sometimes trustees are perfectly competent and honest, but some family members may still not like how they are administering the Will. Disputes often arise over asset distribution, trust management, the trustee's compensation and record keeping.
Getting To The Bottom Of Estate Disputes
Our lawyers can help families and trustees:
- Examine asset distribution and other administrative duties
- Examine investment choices made by a trustee for a trust, and discuss whether or not they are appropriate
- Request a passing of accounts showing what a trustee has done, or prepare records for a passing of accounts
- Request an explanation for payment the trustee has taken for duties performed, or defend the amount received, if the amount is not specified in the Will
- Claim breach of fiduciary duty if the trustee is suspected of putting him or herself ahead of the beneficiaries
- Defend against claims of breach of fiduciary duty
- Ask for the removal of a trustee or co-trustee, defend against a request or help trustees remove themselves from trustee duties
These cases can be difficult to litigate. Family conflicts, ambiguous and confusing rules, and the danger of depleting estate assets through conflict can make these very delicate matters.
Contact Vice & Hunter LLP
Our estate lawyers help families resolve estate disputes all over Ottawa and surrounding parts of Ontario. Call us at 613-701-0898 or fill out our online form.