Handling a Disputed Trust or Probate Case
Florida’s probate law defines a fiduciary as someone who is responsible for managing or administering an estate, a will, a trust, or a guardianship. A fiduciary must be honest and loyal to those whom he or she owes fiduciary duties.
Unfortunately, fiduciaries do not always perform their duties lawfully. When fiduciaries fail to do their duty and rather act in their own interests, this is considered a breach of fiduciary duty.
If your fiduciary engaged in “self-dealing” or failed to perform his or her fiduciary duties properly, you and/or your family may have suffered substantial financial losses. If this has happened to you, you have the legal right to hold your fiduciary responsible for damages caused by the breach.
Examples of Fiduciaries
In Florida probate, there are several different examples of individuals who are considered fiduciaries, including:
- Personal representatives
Problems arise when the fiduciary fails to act in a responsible, loyal, impartial and honest manner. He or she may have:
- Failed to manage assets in accordance with the terms of the Will or trust
- Sold the assets to others at reduced rates
- Charged too much for his or her services
- Made poor investments
- Stolen property/assets
When this occurs, you can bring a claim against the fiduciary for breach of fiduciary duty. If successful, the fiduciary would be removed from their position and held liable for damages.
Florida Probate and Trust Law and Breach of Fiduciary Duty
According to Florida law, a fiduciary must manage assets in accordance with the terms of the will or trust, and must do so in compliance various standards of care, including:
- Duty of Loyalty: a fiduciary must administer solely in the best interests of the beneficiaries and heirs and may not put his or her interests ahead of this duty.
- Duty of Impartiality: a fiduciary must remain impartial when administering the trust or estate and should not give special preferences to one beneficiary or heir.
- Duty to Account: a fiduciary must keep all beneficiaries and heirs informed of administration and accounting of the assets.
- Duty to Act Prudently: a fiduciary must administer the terms of the will, estate or property as a prudent person and exercise caution and care.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Unfortunately, there are numerous situations when a fiduciary breaches his or her duties and fails to administer the will, trust or estate in accordance with Florida probate and trust law. Examples of fiduciary misconduct include:
- Overcharging for services
- Conflicts of interest
- Misappropriation of funds
- Misuse of power or knowledge
- Failure to administer estate in accordance with will and/or trust
Contacting Our Probate Litigation Attorneys
If you believe that a fiduciary has breached the duties he or she owes to you and/or your family by mishandling funds, engaging in self-dealing, failing to comply with a will or trust, or breaching his or her fiduciary duties in any way, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Florida probate litigation and dispute attorney immediately.
A breach of this nature can cause significant financial losses, put inheritances in jeopardy, and create rifts between family members and beneficiaries. The Florida probate litigation lawyers at Kelley/Uustal have extensive experience representing heirs, beneficiaries, and other interested individuals who are engaged in fiduciary disputes and can assist you with all of your probate needs. Call us today for a free consultation.