If a loved one created a trust as part of a complete estate plan, you may be fortunate. A trust is often an excellent tool for protecting assets and allowing beneficiaries to access those assets soon after the trustmaker’s death rather than having to wait through the probate process.

However, there are some factors that can complicate the settlement of a trust. If you are the beneficiary of a revocable living trust, you may have questions about what is holing up your inheritance and whether your situation may ultimately require litigation to reach a resolution.

What slows down trust settlement?

A trust becomes the legal owner of any property the trustmaker funds into it. After the trustmaker’s death, a successor trustee should step in to manage the terms of the trust or to settle it by distributing its assets to those beneficiaries the trustmaker named. Many people use trusts to allow their heirs to bypass probate and collect their inheritances. However, this does not always mean settling a trust will go faster than probate. Some common factors that complicate trust settlement include these:

  • If your loved one named more than one successor trustee, those individuals may have to agree before taking any action related to the trust.
  • A single trustee who lives a significant distance from the estate and its attorneys may prolong the process if he or she must travel to deal with trust-related issues or sign important documents in person.
  • If your loved one failed to discuss the appointment of a successor trustee or discussed it too long ago, that individual may refuse the responsibility.
  • The trust’s beneficiaries may dispute any of the actions related to the settlement of the trust, including the appointment of a particular person as successor trustee.
  • A beneficiary may also contest the validity of the terms of the trust, such as arguing that the trustmaker did not have the mental capacity or was under pressure to set the terms of the trust.
  • A trust that contains complex assets, such as real estate or items that are difficult to value, may require a complicated appraisal process.

A smooth trust settlement typically takes two months at the most, but there are many opportunities for complications and disputes to arise. If your inheritance is on the line because of complex trust issues, you would be wise to protect your future by enlisting the services of a skilled New York attorney.