When A Trustee Breaches Their Fiduciary Duty

Let’s define our terms. A trustee manages the assets that have been placed into a trust. In Florida, the person who created the trust is the grantor. It is common for the grantor to be the trustee when they are alive. However, there will come a time when the grantor becomes incapacitated or passes away. When the trust was created, the grantor designated a trustee to oversee and administer the trust per the grantor’s instructions. 

Attorneys (and other professionals) often assist and advise trustees because the trustee’s role and responsibilities are vast. They include:

  • Filing and paying taxes connected to the trust
  • Passing assets to the designated beneficiaries
  • Acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries
  • Maintaining accurate records of expenses and profits 

Consider the things listed above as a brief snapshot of a trustee’s responsibilities. Furthermore, a trustee is a fiduciary, which means that the grantor has placed their confidence in overseeing the trust according to their established intentions and wishes. 

Breaching Their Duty

The trustee cannot breach their fiduciary duties. This can result from intentionally mishandling the trust and their own negligence. Beneficiaries may suspect or witness the trustee violating their responsibilities. It was previously established that trustees have to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. The trustee, for example, could be one of the beneficiaries. When the trustee makes decisions that benefit them more than the other beneficiaries, they are self-dealing. 

Self-dealing may present itself in several ways:

  • Using the assets in the trust for personal gain or use. 
  • Although trustees get compensated for their work, the amount must be reasonable. 

Many of the assets contained in the trust have the potential to grow in value over time. These include investments, stocks, and properties. In addition to reporting gains and losses, the trustee is expected to make proper investment decisions that benefit the trust and the beneficiaries. 

Luis E. Barreto and Associates

The examples we have outlined above are typical examples of how a trustee may breach their fiduciary duties. Although there may be clear and definitive evidence of both, you still have to prove these actions caused harm, and there are damages. Allow Luis E. Barreto & Associates to hear your case and determine if the trust has suffered losses due to the actions of a trustee. Let us protect you, the trust, and the other beneficiaries. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Luis E. Barreto