Trust Lawyers Brisbane

When family trust disputes arise, it’s crucial to seek legal help immediately. Whether you’re a beneficiary, a trustee, or a settlor, we can help you prevent further losses in trust assets or avoid being held personally liable for the trust dispute.

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Do you need a trust dispute lawyer?

Trust disputes can arise for several reasons. It may arise in cases of serious breaches of trust, such as embezzlement or mismanagement by a trustee, disputes over beneficiary entitlements or the interpretation of trust terms, challenges to the trust’s validity, or concerns about the trustee’s actions.

When these things happen, it is important to seek legal advice from trust litigation lawyers like us. We can help you resolve these issues through litigation when other methods like negotiations and mediation don’t work.

Although litigation can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining, and is often not the recommended initial strategy, sometimes, it may be the only viable way to protect the interests of the trust and its beneficiaries. Especially when complex legal issues or irreparable harm to trust assets are involved.

That is why consulting with experienced trust litigation solicitors like us here at Gibbs Wright is crucial. We’ll let you know where you stand in such cases, help you navigate the legal process effectively, and most importantly, get favourable outcomes for you.

Trust Disputes We Can Resolve

We work both with individuals and businesses to resolve family trust disputes that can’t be resolved through negotiation or mediation. These may include:
  • Breach of Trust
  • Beneficiary Disputes
  • Removal of Trustee
  • Interpretation of Trust Terms
  • Disputed Beneficiary Entitlements
  • Accounting and Transparency
  • Challenges to Trust Validity
  • Third-Party Claims
  • Charitable Trust Compliance
  • Emergency Relief

How to get started

Litigation can be complex and daunting, but we’ll make the process easier for you. Book a complimentary call today.
1

Tell us your
legal matter

Speak to one of our litigation lawyers via phone for free and provide the necessary details and documents so we can better understand your situation.
2

We’ll let you know
where you stand

If we think that you have a good argument, we’ll devise a strategy for you on how we will take on your matter, and give you legal guidance and a fee estimate. All for free.
3

You Decide

It’s ultimately your decision whether to hire us or not based on the strategy and fee estimate we gave you. There’s no obligation and no pressure to proceed.
1

Tell us your legal matter

Speak to one of our litigation lawyers via phone for free and provide the necessary details and documents so we can better understand your situation.
2

We’ll let you know where you stand

If we think that you have a good argument, we’ll devise a strategy for you on how we will take on your matter, and give you legal guidance and a fee estimate. All for free.
3

You Decide

It’s ultimately your decision whether to hire us or not based on the strategy and fee estimate we gave you. There’s no obligation and no pressure to proceed.

Why Gibbs Wright

Our team of litigation lawyers are committed to protecting your rights and getting the best possible outcome for your situation.

What we do is very simple: we sue people, defend people when they get sued and negotiate resolutions to disputes to prevent proceedings from commencing. It’s the only thing we do and we do it really well.

Having done this for many years, we know the law and the legal processes like the back of our hands. But more importantly, we know how to win. No matter the industry you’re in or how complex your situation is.
When we take on your legal matter, you know that our team of expert litigation lawyers will fight for you not just for the sake of it. We will fight relentlessly so you can get back to business as soon as possible.  

Hear it from our satisfied clients

Expert litigators, ready to fight for you.

Spencer Wright

Litigation Director

Spencer leads the strategic operations at Gibbs Wright, with a wealth of knowledge on Queensland law and business operations.

Jessica Carroll

Litigation Solicitor

Jessica holds interests in defamation, corporate and contract law, and works closely with all team members of the firm to ensure the client receives the best result.

Emma Bettridge

Special Counsel

Emma is an experienced commercial litigator committed to giving her clients practical and solutions-oriented advice.

Melany Dowse

Special Counsel

Melany represents a range of clients from individuals and small businesses to body corporates and insolvency practitioners.

Mitchell Caldwell

Senior Litigation Solicitor

Mitchell has degrees in both law and aviation management and has an extensive background in customer service.

Jannah Riley

Litigation Solicitor

Jannah is the newest member of the team with keen eye for litigation and a passion for client success.

Kathryn

Manager

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a trust?

    A trust is a way to control the distribution of property and assets, including money. A trust can ensure that assets are distributed under specific circumstances to specific beneficiaries.

    Due to the tax and inheritance benefits associated with trust structures, they are frequently used in Australia.

    Fundamentally, a trust is a fiduciary relationship between three separate parties:

    The settlor

    The settlor is the person who creates the trust and puts their property into it. The settlor allows the trustee to hold a legal or equitable interest in property, not for the benefit of the trustee but the beneficiary.

    The trustee

    The trustee of a trust is the person who holds and controls the property inside the trust for the beneficiary. The trustee must maintain the trust and they have onerous duties to abide by the rules and terms of the trust deed.

    A trust deed instructs how the trust assets can be used, and the trustee is legally bound to carry out those instructions. The assets may only be used according to these instructions and for the nominated beneficiaries.

    If a trustee is found to be misusing assets they may be removed and subjected to legal action.

    The decision to act as a trustee should not be taken lightly.

    The beneficiary

    A beneficiary of a trust is a person or entity for whose benefit the property is held. The beneficiary can receive the property in many ways. For example, they can receive the property outright, as a percentage incrementally over time, or as payment for expenses over the beneficiary’s lifetime.

    How the trust assets are disbursed depends on the reason(s) for the trust.

  • What are the different types of trust?

    1. Fixed Trusts: In a fixed trust, each beneficiary is entitled to a fixed portion of the trust’s capital and income annually. People use them to minimize conflicts among beneficiaries due to predetermined shares.
    2. Unit Trusts: Unit trusts divide the trust into units, and beneficiaries (unit-holders) receive income and capital proportionate to the units they hold. They’re often used for co-owning assets and offer tax and asset protection benefits.
    3. Charitable Trusts: These trusts are registered for charitable purposes and have no nominated beneficiaries. People use them for tax concessions, including income tax exemptions and deductions, as well as for garnering public donations.
    4. Discretionary Family Trusts: Trustees have control over asset and income distribution, without fixed beneficiary entitlements. They are used for asset protection, especially in business situations, as assets are owned by the trustee, not beneficiaries.
    5. Special Disability Trusts: Set up by family members to provide for a disabled person’s ongoing needs. These trusts don’t affect the person’s entitlement to disability support pensions.
    6. Testamentary Trusts: Created by a will to control asset distribution after the settlor’s death, commonly used in estate planning for flexibility and multiple trust options.
    7. Child Maintenance Trusts: Established due to family breakdown or when parents are not living together with a financial maintenance order in place. They protect property from creditors and reduce income tax for parents.
    8. Bare Trusts: The trustee simply holds property for the beneficiary without any other duties. They are used for holding real estate discreetly.
    9. Hybrid Trusts: Combining features of different trusts, often a mix of unit and discretionary trusts. They provide flexibility and are suitable for unrelated individuals co-owning investments or businesses.
    10. Superannuation Trusts: These trusts offer retirement and death benefits to members (beneficiaries). All superannuation funds in Australia operate as trusts. They provide tax advantages and flexibility in investment decisions for retirement planning.

     

    Each type of trust serves specific purposes, from asset protection and tax advantages to facilitating asset distribution and supporting charitable causes. Depending on your situation, one of these trust structures may be more suitable for your needs. If you have any specific questions or need assistance with setting up a trust in Queensland, please feel free to ask.

  • Who can be a trustee?

    To be eligible as a trustee, a person must be aged at least 18 years, not have a legal disability and be able to own property. The trustee can be an individual or a company.

    Due to the complicated nature of trusts and the duties of a trustee, the person taking on the role must be aware of their responsibilities.

  • Who can be a beneficiary?

    The beneficiary of a trust can be an individual or a company. There are no limits on who can be a beneficiary. Minors, people who are affected by disabilities and even unborn children can be beneficiaries.

  • Can a trust be disputed?

    In most instances yes, a trust can be disputed. When a trust is disputed it means that the validity or authority of the trust is being challenged.

    Common reasons for trust disputes involve management of the trust, trustee actions, and division of trust property. Disputes may be brought by beneficiaries or other trustees.

  • What happens when a trust is disputed?

    How a trust dispute is managed depends on the type of trust and the reason for the dispute. It is important to seek legal advice early, to help minimise the harm and damage that can be caused. Call Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers for a free, confidential, no-obligation discussion about your options to manage your trust dispute.

  • When should a trust be created?

    There are many types of trusts, so the reason(s) for creating a trust may vary.

    Essentially a trust is a form of property ownership that allows others to benefit from the distribution of income gained by the property.

    Benefits of trusts include:

    Providing for family members

    A trust can allow a person to share their property with their chosen beneficiaries, for example, their children and grandchildren. A trust can allow the property owner to determine how the property is to be held and distributed. A trust is particularly useful if the beneficiaries are too young, or are unable to manage their finances.

    Protecting assets

    Another reason trusts are often created is to separate a person’s assets from their estate. When assets are in a trust, they are in the name of a trustee. This helps in situations such as when a business fails because creditors will be unable to pursue any assets that are in the trust.

    Asset protection and trusts are complex, so it’s best to seek legal advice to receive the most up-to-date information.

    Tax advantages

    There are tax advantages to holding assets in a trust. One main advantage is that the income generated by those assets is taxed at the rate that applies to the beneficiary. This rate is often lower than the rate that applies to the original owner.

    Because there are many different trust types, it’s important to discuss your options with a taxation lawyer.

  • Can a trustee also be a beneficiary of a trust?

    Yes, a trustee can also be the beneficiary of a trust, but not the sole beneficiary unless there is more than one trustee.

    Where a trustee is also a beneficiary of a trust, it is recommended that more than one trustee is appointed to avoid complications regarding the improper exercise of power.

  • When might I need a trust litigation lawyer?

    A trust litigation lawyer can help deal with trusts of any type and in a variety of ways. Most commonly, a trust lawyer is needed if:

    • The validity of a trust is questioned;
    • The distribution of the trust assets is disputed; or
    • The actions of a trustee are believed to be improper.

     

    A trust lawyer can help all key players involved in a trust. They can determine whether concerns are valid and the steps that should be taken to resolve a dispute.

  • What can be in a trust?

    Common assets in a trust, called trust property, include cash, securities, business interests, real estate and life insurance policies.

  • Are there any time limits on trust disputes?

    Under the Limitations of Actions Act 1974 (Qld), there is a six-year time limit for a beneficiary to take action against a trustee unless the action is related to fraud or the recovery of trust property or proceeds of trust property.

  • What are the grounds for removing a trustee?

    In most instances, for a trustee to be removed from a trust, it needs to be proven that removal is needed:

    • Because the trustee has not fulfilled their duties;
    • To protect the trust assets and the beneficiaries; or
    • Because the trustee is exercising their powers in a prejudicial way.

    Trustee behaviour that can lead to removal includes when a trustee is:

    Confused about, or misunderstands, their duties;

    • Unable to be contacted; or
    • Acting in a way that harms the trust.
  • Why and when are trusts dissolved?

    Most trusts will have a date by which they must be formally dissolved. This process is known as vesting. The vesting date is usually included in the terms of the trust deed. In many trusts, the vesting date is 80 years from when the trust was created.

    When a vesting date is reached, the trust must be dissolved. However, the trust may be dissolved before the vesting date, when:

    • It is revoked. A trust may contain a provision that allows the trustee or settlor to revoke the deed.
    • The beneficiaries have consented. All beneficiaries must be aged at least 18, and collectively decide to dissolve the trust, and the trustee must formally declare and record the trust as terminated.
    • A court orders that the trust be dissolved.

     

    When a trust is dissolved, all property held in the trust is distributed according to the trust deed.

Explore your legal options with Gibbs Wright Litigation Lawyers - Brisbane’s Leading Litigation Firm.

Our expert litigators will let you know where you stand and give you legal guidance.