Trusts are used to collect and protect assets. To an extent, using a trust permits for just one person to handle all the financial affairs of the person who created the trust. The person who directs the affairs of the trust is referred to as the Trustee. When the Trustee fails to act in the best interests of the trust, there needs to be an assessment of the trust itself to determine what is required, what can be done, and who can do it. How is a Trust interpreted by the courts?
The “guiding principle” of the court in interpreting a trust is to effectuate the testator’s intent as expressed by the trust instrument’s plain language. That includes reading the trust instrument “as a whole, aided by surrounding circumstances, due weight being given to all its language, with some meaning being given, if possible, to all parts, expressions, and words used.” In re Ruth Easton Fund, 680 N.W.2d 541, 548 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004) (quotation omitted). That is, you do not read one sentence in isolation. It also means you have to have an understanding or input from the person who created the trust (the testator) to give life and meaning to the terms.
Whether you are in White Bear Lake or Stillwater or elsewhere, a trust is important to understand and interpret. My probate and trust litigation experience can help you navigate through unwanted situations, so feel free to call for an initial consultation on any disputes.