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20 Things to Know About the New West Virginia Uniform Trust Code

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December 17, 2013

The West Virginia Lawyer magazine recently featured the writing of Robinson and McElwee members David Higgins and Marsha Kauffman in the October – December 2013 edition.  Higgins and Kauffman’s article, "20 Things to Know about the New West Virginia Uniform Trust Code," highlights House Bill 2551.

Key principles of the article are summarized by Higgins and Kauffman: “…we now have a procedure to amend irrevocable trusts by unanimous consent assuming such amendment does not interfere with a ‘material purpose’ of the trust. Future litigation will further define what is or is not a ‘material purpose.’  West Virginia now specifically authorizes ‘trust contest’ litigation using the same factors historically employed for ‘will contest’ litigation.  Lawyer fees can now be awarded in connection with trust litigation.  The fees charged by trustees are now, basically, subject to review by a court if challenged by a beneficiary.  Any beneficiary is entitled to a copy of the trust instrument and an annual statement from the trustee.  If disclosed, suit for breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee must commence within one year of the disclosure.”

David K. Higgins is a founding member of Robinson & McElwee and primarily practices state and federal tax litigation, state and federal securities law, asset protection and general business law.

Marsha W. Kauffman is a member of Robinson & McElwee and practices within the firm’s energy and environment and litigation departments, with a focus in the areas of environmental law and public utility law.