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Home » Estate Litigation » Protecting an estate from breach of fiduciary duty

When a loved one passes away and leaves behind an estate, they entrust a specific person, called a fiduciary, to manage and distribute their assets well. This fiduciary, whether an executor or trustee, has a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, situations may arise in which a breach of fiduciary duty occurs, breaking this trust. If you are a beneficiary of an estate, it is important to know what constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty and the steps you can take when it occurs.

Fiduciary duty and estate management

A person in a fiduciary role, such as managing an estate or trust, must prioritize the beneficiaries’ welfare over their own interests. Their obligations include managing the estate’s assets, ensuring fair and timely distribution and avoiding conflicts of interest. Negligence from a fiduciary could harm the estate and its beneficiaries.

Signs of a breach of fiduciary duty can include unexplained losses or mismanagement of estate assets. A lack of regular updates to beneficiaries may be suspicious. Also, it could be a problem if your fiduciary fails to follow explicit instructions in the will or trust.

Addressing breaches of fiduciary duty

If you suspect a breach of fiduciary duty, there are steps you can take right away. Start by documenting any evidence of mismanagement or wrongdoing, including dates and details of decisions made by the fiduciary. Record any communications that indicate a failure to adhere to their duties.

Next, you can formally request detailed accounting from the fiduciary, outlining all actions taken with the estate’s assets. This request often resolves disputes without further conflict. If the issue continues, mediation could be helpful. In some cases, you may need to take legal action to protect your interests and ensure the estate follows your loved one’s wishes.

By understanding your rights and the fiduciary’s responsibilities, you can proactively address and rectify any breaches, ensuring fair and respectful management of your loved one’s estate.