How long does it take to settle a trust?

The answer to your question depends on the complexity of the trust assets, whether any creditors have claims on the trust assets, the tax implications of settling the trust, and whether any of the beneficiaries contest the proposed settlement. A simple trust settlement could take as little as a few months, while other trust settlements may take significantly longer.

Factors That Make Some Trust Settlements Take Longer

A trust may take longer to settle if:

  • There are many assets. Every asset must be located and valued before a settlement occurs.
  • Assets are hard to value. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust. This means that they need to get a reasonable value for each asset. This can take some time in a poor economy or if there is no ready market for a specific asset.
  • A beneficiary cannot be located. All named beneficiaries should be informed of the trust before a settlement is reached.
  • A family member or beneficiary is contesting the validity of the trust. This may occur if the person was not informed of an estate plan and believed it to be something other than what existed at the time of the decedent’s death. Sometimes, if children or grandchildren are treated differently or if significant assets are left to charity, then a dispute may arise.
  • Creditors claim a right to the trust property. Some creditors, such as the IRS and hospitals, may claim a right to the trust assets to satisfy existing debts.

Any of these factors can stretch the settlement of the trust out by months or years, depending on the unique issue.

How an Attorney Can Help a Trust Settle Fairly and Quickly

If you are a trustee or a trust beneficiary and you believe that the trust is not being settled quickly enough, then you should consult with a lawyer. You may be able to go to court to force action to settle the estate, but there are pros and cons to this that should be thoroughly explored with an attorney before you do anything. Your goal may be a quick settlement of the trust, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of a fair settlement of the trust.

To learn more about your rights and for help settling a trust, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule a free and confidential consultation.