Legal Articles

Standing: Breach of Trust and Trustee Removal

Trust law distinguishes between “qualified beneficiaries” and “beneficiaries.” A “beneficiary” is a person that has a present or future beneficial interest in a trust or holds a power of appointment over trust property. Section 456.1-103(3), RSMo. A “qualified beneficiary” is different. It includes a beneficiary who is currently eligible to receive trust distributions, as well…

Trusts: Beneficiary, Qualified Beneficiary, Interested Person

In trust litigation, particularly breach of trust litigation, your legal relation to the trust is extremely important in determining what claims you can make. Missouri trust law distinguishes between a “qualified beneficiary,” “beneficiary” and “interested person.” By way of example, a qualified beneficiary is typically either someone who is eligible to receive mandatory or discretionary…

Successor Trustee Authority, Release of Liability

The general rule in Missouri is that successor trustees, unless the terms of the trust document say otherwise, possess all of the duties and authority of the initial trustee and/or any predecessor trustee. Therefore, a successor trustee usually possesses all of the “specific powers” of a trustee articulated in Section 456.8-816, RSMo. One of the…

Trustee Removal: Lack of Fitness, Unwillingness

Trustee removal is complex litigation. Missouri has mostly adopted the uniform trust code, which authorizes trustee removal for cause when (among other circumstances) there is “unfitness” or “unwillingness” of a trustee. Most trustee removal claims center on allegations of breach of trust, failure to effectively administer or lack of cooperation among co-trustees. However, “unfitness” and…

Prudent Investor Rule, Asset Management, Fiduciary Litigation

A fiduciary (e.g., trustee, personal representative, etc.) has an obligation to invest and manage assets as a “prudent investor” would. When making investment and management decisions, the fiduciary should consider the purposes, terms, distribution requirements and other circumstances of the trust or fiduciary relationship. O’Riley v. US Bank, NA, 412 S.W.3d 400, 414 (Mo. Ct. App….

Trust Litigation & Disputes: Mediation and Arbitration

Because probate, trust and estate litigation is often quite complex and expensive (e.g, breach of trust, trustee removal, trust contests),  many estate planning and drafting attorneys have included provisions to try to avoid or expedite these problems if a dispute arises down the road. An increasingly common way they combat this is by including mandatory…

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