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Why You're Wrong About Trusts & Wills: The Trust will Pay My Attorneys Fees!

I want to talk about why you are wrong today. If you think that the trust is going to pay for your attorney’s fees, you are mistaken, unfortunately. If you’re the beneficiary of a trust, you may think that the trust should have to pay for the beneficiary’s lawyer. That’s not going to happen. I know what you’re thinking: the trust pays for the trustee’s lawyer, so why can’t the trust pay for your lawyer as a beneficiary?

Well, I’m here to tell you it just doesn’t work that way. At least not in the beginning of your trust lawsuit.

Trustees are in a position of power at the beginning of any lawsuit. In theory, the trustee has a right to use trust assets to conduct trust business including hiring a lawyer for a lawsuit. If a trustee uses trust monies to protect his or her own individual interests, then the trustee’s fees may be denied by the court. That’s one thing that we always look for.  But the trustee is going to be able to use trust money.

The Beneficiary Does Not Yet Have Access to The Trust

You, as the beneficiary, do not have access to your trust money yet. You don’t have access until the money is distributed. If you’re in a fight with the trustee, a lot of trustees will try to hold on to your money and not make a distribution. Of course, that is improper. Nevertheless, they do it.  That means you will have to go to court. You will have to ask for a distribution. You may have to seek removal of the trustee. You have to try, and possibly get the trustee surcharged if the trustee did something wrong.  But you are going to have to do all of those things out of your own pocket – until you can get access to the trust money.  It can be very frustrating and very difficult.

Attorney Payment Arrangements

That’s why you may want to consider different options for hiring lawyers, such as a contingency fee option. In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney handles your trust litigation, and the attorney’s fee is a portion of any settlement or court award obtained in the case. The arrangement allows people to obtain legal representation without paying any upfront costs. It is an option to consider because, in most cases, you’re simply not going to be able to access the trust’s money to pay for a lawyer at the beginning of your lawsuit.