Every once in a while we’ll hear a story about a family for whom a trust was more of a hindrance than a help. Most often it’s because the trust was not created properly, or was old and outdated and hadn’t been reviewed by the grantors on a regular basis. But sometimes the conflict is more personal.
The possibility for conflicts within trust administration is no reason to keep from creating a trust; rather, it is why it is important to have a system in place to resolve these conflicts when they crop up.
Options for conflict resolution or prevention may include having a dispute mediation clause in the trust document itself, nominating co-trustees whom you know will be able to work well together, or nominating a Trust Advisor (also called a Trust Protector).
A Trust Advisor is separate from the Trustee. The Trust Advisor may be a professional, often an attorney, who can serve as a mediator between the beneficiaries and the trustee should any disagreements crop up. In addition to serving as a mediator in case of conflict, your Trust Advisor will also be the first person any of your beneficiaries can call on if they have questions about administration or distributions, or conflicts with the Trustee. A Trust Advisor may also be given powers to modify the trust provisions to ensure ongoing compliance with law and changing circumstances, even after the incapacity or death of the Grantors.
Whatever your situation or preference there are options and tools to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your beneficiaries are provided for with as little conflict as possible.