Family Trust Abuse

For many years, there has been a strong push as an element of estate planning to place assets in a revocable living trust, primarily to avoid the cost and procedures of Probate. Generally, within a family situation, each spouse has some degree of responsibility as a Trustee of the other spouse’s trust, often in conjunction with another family member.  A problem, unfortunately all to common, may arise when the non-spouse trustee needs funds and with his/or her authority invades the principle of the trust, usually intending to pay it back – but being unable to to so. Once such a problem is discovered, the fall out often results in the creation of an insurmountable rift in the family,  followed by recrimination and, possibly, civil litigation as well as criminal proceedings. In view of the forgoing, both careful drafting of the legal instruments as well as an in depth analysis of the character and financial acumen of the non spousal trustee can reduce the potential for actions that may dramatically impact the financial conditions of the family for years to come.

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