What to Watch for When You Suspect a Florida Trustee of Breaching Their Fiduciary Duty
Trustees are the ones who manage the assets of a trust on behalf of the beneficiaries. They are to manage the assets in whatever manner the trust terms dictate. This is known as their fiduciary duty. When a trustee fails in this duty, it’s considered a breach of fiduciary duty and the beneficiaries may file a lawsuit. This is where you need the services of a Florida estate and trust litigation attorney.
What is a Breach of Fiduciary Duty?
A trustee can breach their fiduciary duty in a variety of ways. Sometimes the breach is obvious, but more often than not, it’s subtle. This requires beneficiaries to always be alert and make sure to check in on the trustee’s actions regularly. Sometimes the breach may not be immediately evident either. It can take time before the damage is noticeable enough to beneficiaries, making it even more important that beneficiaries check the trustee’s actions on a regular basis.
Examples of Breach of Trust
Breach of trust can be any action or inaction that violates the trust’s terms or the trustee’s fiduciary duties. In many cases, the breach somehow unfairly benefits the trustee or gives one beneficiary an advantage over the others. A breach of trust can include or more of these situations:
- The trustee let themselves be swayed by outside influences, like a bribe.
- The trustee had a conflict of interest which subsequently resulted in mismanagement of the trust or provided an advantage to some beneficiaries.
- The trustee failed to act in the best interest of all of the beneficiaries, allowing one or two to profit more.
- The trustee was negligent and that caused trust mismanagement. In this situation, you need to prove there were losses that resulted from the negligence. If the trustee acted in good faith but losses occurred due to an investment not performing as well as expected, there is likely no claim.
- The trustee used assets for him- or herself.
Recovering Damages in Breach of Fiduciary Duty Cases
If you discover trust mismanagement by the trustee, your attorney will file a petition on your behalf to have the trustee removed. Recovering financial losses is not as straightforward. The ability for recovery will depend on the case. If possible, the judge will order that misappropriated assets be transferred back into the trust. If the trustee spent them, then there may be a monetary judgment issued. Possible recovery options can include a constructive trust that allows you to recover the assets the trustee transferred out of the trust, or a surcharge which reduces the trustee’s inheritance or trust fees. If neither of these are an option, then the court will look to issue a monetary judgment.
Contact a Florida Trust Litigation Attorney Today
If you suspect a trustee of mismanaging a trust, no matter whether it’s intentional or negligent in nature, it’s important to speak with a St. Petersburg estate and trust litigation attorney as soon as possible. Contact Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP today at 727-471-5868 to schedule an initial consultation.