In a recent case before the Fourteenth Court of Appeals, two siblings asked for a decision regarding the assets left in their father’s estate. Originally, the siblings fought when one took longer than the other wanted to distribute funds from their father’s trust. Without clear guidelines for how to handle the father’s estate, the siblings found themselves in a legal battle that went on for years after their father’s death.
Facts of the Case
This case originated when the father of two siblings died in October 2014. After the death, the decedent’s daughter was named trustee of the family’s trust, and it was her responsibility to distribute the money in the trust.
Several years later, the trustee’s brother sued her, arguing that she was intentionally and maliciously keeping funds from him by delaying the distribution of funds. He asked the trial court to order his sister to distribute his share of his father’s estate immediately, as well as to order her to pay the attorney’s fees he accrued in the lawsuit.
The siblings continued to litigate their lawsuit over the course of several years. The trial court issued an order demanding that the sister pay the brother his fair share of the trust assets, and she appealed. Ultimately, though, the court of appeals concluded that there were more issues to be litigated at the trial court level, and they did not actually have the authority to decide anything given the current state of the case.
Ultimately, the parties faced serious and contentious issues that could have been avoided by proper and well-thought-out estate planning. Setting up a trust is a valid, creative way to distribute funds after you are gone; however, there must be a detailed strategy for how this money will get into the hands of your loved ones that can guide them along the way. Because these issues are personal and life-altering, family members can often end up fighting after a loved one’s death and spending unnecessary money on attorneys in the process.
The best way to avoid this kind of conflict is to meet with an estate planning attorney that prioritizes your needs and plans. Without a skilled, experienced lawyer in your corner, the distribution of your assets could be left to chance. To make sure you are protected, begin the process today and set up a call with an estate planning attorney you can trust.
Do You Have an Estate Planning Attorney for Your Long-Term Needs?
At McCulloch & Miller, we have been serving the Houston community as advocates for aging Americans for over 30 years. We offer a holistic approach to planning that takes all of our clients’ needs into account, allowing our clients and their families to enjoy the highest possible quality of life. For a consultation with a member of our Houston estate planning team, give us a call today at 713-597-7176.