Probate Litigation Attorneys
A primary factor many consider when looking to hire an attorney to pursue a Trust dispute is the cost of representation (i.e. attorney fees and out of pocket litigation expenses). In deciding whether to hire an attorney, prospective clients almost always ask: “If I win, can I get my attorney fees paid?” Under Ohio law, the short answer is often “no”. However, a recent case interpreting a statute enacted in 2007 will help Trust beneficiaries recover attorney fees and litigation expenses in a Trust dispute.
One advantage of using a trust for estate planning is privacy. The probate process is generally all a matter of public record for any inquiring mind. Trusts, though intended to be more private, can become public when disputes arise that pull the administration into court. But a new Ohio law is changing that.
Adam M. Fried recently presented at The Marvin R. Pliskin Advanced Probate and Estate Planning Seminar, sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association's Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section. More than 250 attorneys from across the state of Ohio attended the full-day Continuing Legal Education course.
Ten years after the first enactment of the Ohio Trust Code, in Zook, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank National Association, et al., 10th Dist. No. 15AP-751, 2017-Ohio-838, the Tenth District Ohio Court of Appeals gave insight into protections under the Ohio Trust Code afforded trustees against beneficiary claims and a provided a roadmap for a beneficiary to challenge such protection.
Following up on the recent blog post on basic principles of trust reporting, the Fifth District Court of Appeals released a timely analysis involving a trustee’s failure to account and an award of attorney fees against the trustee for their breach of duty in McHenry v. McHenry, (5th Dist.), 2017-Ohio 1534. The decision, originating out of the Stark County Probate Court is significant for two reasons: (1) it provides a thorough analysis of a trustee’s duty to account even in the face of trust language relieving the trustee of his duty to account; and (2) the court awarded attorney fees in excess of the value of the compensatory damages, pursuant to its authority under R.C. 5810.04.
You are a trust beneficiary.
You have no idea what is in the trust, what has been spent out of the trust, and what will be spent out of the trust.
Must the trustee open his books to you? What rights do you have to receive this information?