How to make sense of trust disputes

Learning how to make sense of trust disputes is essential, whether you’re facing disagreements as a beneficiary or a trustee. Once you know why disputes happen and how to approach them, you may find it easier to resolve issues effectively.

We’d recommend seeking advice from a solicitor to help you handle any disputes, but there are a few things you can do to understand the situation better.

How to make sense of trust disputes

What is a trust dispute?

A trust dispute is any dispute relating to the administration of a trust.

Many people use a will trust to set aside money or assets for their loved ones, making it a valuable estate-planning tool. They will appoint a trustee — or trustees — to administer the assets to named beneficiaries according to the trust’s terms.

Disputes generally arise when beneficiaries or trustees disagree on how a trust’s assets should be managed or distributed.

The nature of trust disputes means dealing with them can be stressful — particularly if family is involved. It’s therefore important to resolve these matters as amicably as possible.

Why do trust disputes happen?

A trust dispute can happen for any number of reasons, but some common scenarios include the following:

  • a trustee is accused of negligence, breaching the rules of the trust or using its funds for personal gain
  • beneficiaries believe they have not received their fair share of the trust’s assets
  • trustees disagree on how to best follow the trust’s rules
  • the person who set up the trust was misled, poorly advised or lacked mental capacity
  • the trust document is vague or needs correcting
  • a beneficiary wants to remove a trustee.

These disputes can prevent beneficiaries from claiming funds until the matter is resolved and put trustees at risk of legal action.

How should I handle a trust dispute?

Trust law can be complicated, and disputes are often delicate, so we recommend hiring a solicitor to help you get the best possible outcome.

The best approach will depend on your specific circumstances.


As a trustee, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible — particularly if you are accused of fraud or negligence. These kinds of accusations are serious, so it’s vital to protect yourself from potential legal consequences.

You may also believe a beneficiary is making a wrongful claim. In this instance, you’ll need to work with an expert to dispute it.

Our article on 5 important aspects of probate & trust administration can also help you understand your role as a trustee.


If you believe a trustee is mismanaging the trust’s assets or you have grounds for contesting a will, you’ll need to act quickly. The sooner you find a solicitor, the sooner the trust’s contents can be distributed fairly.

A professional can also help you gain access to trust documents and understand your rights as a beneficiary.

How can I find the right support?

In some cases, you may be able to reach an agreement quickly, but settling trust disputes can take time. Finding the right solicitor can help resolve the issue as smoothly as possible.

Our friends at Darwin Gray Solicitors can offer expert legal advice and guide you through the trust dispute process step by step. As probate and inheritance dispute specialists, they have a reputation for achieving excellent results for their clients.

For any other wills & probate advice, we’ll be right by your side. We can help you with everything from writing a will to minimising your inheritance tax liability. And if we don’t offer a particular service, we can refer you to someone who does.

Get in touch with us to find out how we can support you and your family.


The information provided is of a general nature. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances. You are recommended to obtain specific professional advice from an appropriate professional before you take any action or refrain from action. Whilst we endeavour to use reasonable efforts to furnish accurate, complete, reliable, error free and up-to-date information, we do not warrant that it is such. We and our associates disclaim all warranties. The information can only provide an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice.

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