A fiduciary is someone who acts for the benefit of another person. A fiduciary is required to exercise a standard of care which, if breached, would make him or her liable to the beneficiaries for damages caused by the misconduct.
The executor of a will, administrator of an estate, trustee and guardian are examples of fiduciaries. In the case of a will or trust, the fiduciary is responsible for the proper management and distribution of assets and may not benefit themselves to the detriment of the beneficiaries. Fiduciary misconduct may result in legal action by beneficiaries of an estate or trust calling for a detailed accounting, removal of the fiduciary, restitution (surcharge) and even criminal prosecution.
Our attorneys have broad experience both representing fiduciaries defending claims of misconduct and seeking their removal on behalf of beneficiaries in cases involving claims of fiduciary misconduct, including negligence and fraud.
Examples of Fiduciary Misconduct
Breach of a fiduciary duty may include:
- Negligence in the management of estate or trust assets, including imprudent investments and/or failure to account for assets.
- Intentional acts of fraud such as withholding pertinent information, hiding financial documents and other acts of untruthfulness.
- Removing property from an estate.
- Self dealing - transferring assets from the estate to the fiduciary.
- Failure to cooperate with beneficiaries or provide necessary information.
- Failure to properly conduct the administration of an estate.
- Failure to properly carry out the instructions left in a will or trust.