Involved in a trust dispute? We have one of the leading trust dispute teams in Australia. So, you have come to the right place.
The nature of the relationship between trustees and beneficiaries provides fertile ground for disputes. On one hand, the trustee is responsible for holding trust assets and must ensure that they administer the trust appropriately. On the other hand, the beneficiaries are ultimately entitled to the benefit of the trust assets, which can cause them to closely scrutinise the trustee’s conduct.
Allegations may be made that the trustee has:
- not followed the trust deed and acted in breach of trust;
- refused to provide trust documents to beneficiaries (such as the trust deed, any varying or amending deed, trust tax returns and financial statements);
- improperly sold, transferred, used, or devalued trust assets;
- not exercised its discretions properly;
- the controller treated the trust as if the trust were his/her own bank account;
- favoured one or more of the beneficiaries over others;
- acted in bad faith, in conflict or with bias; or
- engaged in wrongdoing, misconduct, deceit, or fraud.
Trust disputes have the potential to go down many different paths, are time consuming and require attention to detail.
The removal and replacement of the trustee is a commonly sought remedy, and trustees can also face personal liability for breach of their duties. Another common remedy sought is the production of trust documents to a beneficiary.
Trustees may also require the assistance of the Court in interpreting a trust deed, the approval (or advice) on the trustee taking a step that deals with the Trust’s assets or seeking forgiveness for a step that the trustee has undertaken during the administration of the Trust.
Our team are genuine specialists at trust disputes. Shortly before joining Velocity Legal, our team leader (Jennifer Maher) had success in one of the most significant trust dispute cases of the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal in recent times. The case citation is Owies v JJE Nominees Pty Ltd  VSCA 142.
We pride ourselves on being a leading law firm for trust disputes and advice.
We are also specialists in providing advice where charitable trusts are involved.
We can prepare cy pres applications either to the Attorney General or Supreme Court for the variation of the purpose of the trust or the beneficiaries who can benefit.
As part of our estate planning we discuss philanthropic wishes with clients.
We understand that every trust dispute is unique. So, we adopt a nuanced approach to ensure that our services are tailored to your needs.
Our usual process is to:
- provide you with a clear and transparent fee quote;
- discuss your concerns, goals, and desired outcomes; and
- tailor a solution with your specific needs in mind.
We also recognise that each trust is unique as are the players involved.
We recommend trustees obtain advice early, indeed one of the outcomes of Re Owies was the trustees should seek advice, and specialist advice, in the event there is an issue. Careful planning and reading of the Deeds is crucial to the proper administration of a trust.