Pompano Beach Breach of Fiduciary Duties Lawyer
In the areas of estate planning, trusts, probate and trust and estate administration, many different parties find themselves in the position of fiduciaries. The word fiduciary comes from the Latin meaning something inspiring trust, and fiduciaries indeed are people who are in a position of trust with respect to others. When fiduciaries breach their fiduciary duties, they can be held personally liable for any monetary loss or other harm their actions or negligence have caused, and they can even be required to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees if litigation is required. In Broward County, Pompano Beach breach of fiduciary duties lawyer Mark R. Manceri represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries in the resolution of disputes surrounding the alleged breach of fiduciary duties.
Trustees have fiduciary duties
When a trust is created, the settlor names a trustee and one or more beneficiaries. The trustee holds legal title to the trust property, while the beneficiaries hold equitable title to that same property. When the triggering event outlined in the trust occurs, the trustee transfers legal title to the beneficiaries. Until that time, the property is held “in trust,” and the trustee owes fiduciary duties or obligations to the beneficiaries.
This period may last for months or years, such as when waiting for a beneficiary to reach a certain age before acquiring title to the trust assets. During that time, the trustee is required to manage the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries, which may include investing property or maintaining it so that it increases in value or does not lose any value. The trustee owes a fiduciary duty of loyalty to the beneficiaries to act in their best interests. Ways in which a trustee may breach that duty include:
Self-dealing – enriching oneself at the expense of the beneficiaries
Conflict of interest – acting in ways contrary to the best interests of the beneficiaries
Mark R. Manceri, P.A. is experienced in handling the full array of trustee disputes based on a breach of fiduciary duties.
Personal representatives have fiduciary duties
Whether named as executor in the will or appointed as estate administrator by the Broward County probate court, an estate’s personal representative owes fiduciary duties to the estate and its heirs and beneficiaries. Like a trustee, a personal representative may have to manage assets for a period of time or sell property in order to make a proper distribution. A business may have to be sold, shuttered or passed to a successor, and these decisions may be left to the personal representative if not clearly planned for by the testator. In all of these instances, the personal representative is required to avoid conflicts of interests and act in good faith and fair dealing with regard to the interests of the estate’s heirs.
What happens when the trustee or personal representative is also among the heirs or beneficiaries? This situation is not uncommon, as settlors and testators often choose a close, trusted family member to fulfill these roles. Unfortunately, disputes can arise when actions taken by the trustee or representative benefit the fiduciary as well as the beneficiaries. Was the fiduciary acting in the best interests of all beneficiaries or engaged in self-dealing? Resolving disputes in these situations can be complex and require the assistance of an expert wills and trusts attorney.
Powers of Attorney involve fiduciary duties
Often an estate plan will provide for a power of attorney to be given in the event the testator becomes physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to care for his or her own affairs. A power of attorney gives another person the authority to act as one’s agent to make financial and legal decisions on one’s behalf. This person may be a relative who makes sure that bills and taxes get paid, or a financial professional who manages investments.
A person holding a power of attorney is the principal’s attorney in-fact and has the power to bind the principal to contracts, incur liability or release claims, and likely has access to the principal’s bank account. A power of attorney, then, gives substantial power and authority to another, but this person is bound by fiduciary duties to act in the principal’s best interests and avoid conflicts of interest or self-dealing. Mark R. Manceri, P.A. handles cases involving the alleged abuse of agents using a power of attorney in Pompano Beach and Broward County, as well as guardianship litigation involving challenges to a guardian’s actions over a ward’s person or property.
Help with Breach of Fiduciary Duties in Pompano Beach and Broward County
For solid legal advice and strong legal advocacy regarding the breach of fiduciary duties in a Broward County will or trust dispute, power of attorney or guardianship matter, contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A. in Pompano Beach for help from an experienced and successful Florida estates litigation lawyer.