Trustors put a significant amount of confidence in the person they appoint as the administrator of their trust. It is part of the trustee’s responsibility to adhere to their fiduciary duty to act with reasonable care and in good faith. Unfortunately, some trustees fail to uphold their duty, which can cause damage and inconvenience to the beneficiaries. And when this happens, beneficiaries can bring an action against the responsible trustee.
Breach of fiduciary duty
A trustee has the fiduciary duty to be loyal to the trust, act in good faith and practice reasonable care when managing the trust fund. Otherwise, they can be liable for breach of fiduciary duty. Some acts that can be considered a breach are:
- Misappropriating trust funds or assets
- Using the trust to make investments beyond their authority
- Failing to use a reasonable standard of care when managing assets
- Failing to take the necessary steps to protect the trust assets
- Improperly distributing the trust assets
Any act that serves the trustee’s own personal interests and damages the trustor and the beneficiaries is a breach of fiduciary duty. This is applicable whether or not the act was intentional.
The law expects the trustee to manage the trust in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If you suspect a trustee to be misrepresenting and providing false information about the trust’s management, you may want to look into signs of fraud. Some examples of fraudulent acts could be hiding the management of trust assets and leaving out details about the properties.
It is the right of the beneficiaries to know the status of the trust’s management. This is a good way to check if the trust assets are intact and managed properly. If the trustee refuses to provide information, the court can intervene. If the evidence points to fraud or a breach of fiduciary duty, beneficiaries can bring a lawsuit against the trustee.