Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Scriber Law Group, LLC. can represent a fiduciary or someone challenging a fiduciary in a lawsuit alleging breach of fiduciary duty. As your Atlanta breach of fiduciary duty attorney, we can bring action on behalf of Heirs and Beneficiaries and can defend Executors, Administrators, Trustees, and Trust Administrators accused of breaching their fiduciary duty. Our firm can represent both local and out-of-state clients in Probate litigation throughout the State of Georgia.
What is a Fiduciary Duty?
Typically, a fiduciary is someone trusted to take care of money or other assets for another person. Accordingly, a fiduciary duty, one of the highest legal duties under Georgia law, is the legal duty of a fiduciary to act in the best interests of the beneficiary. In the context of Probate or Estate Administration, the Executor or Administrator acts as a fiduciary to those who will receive from the estate. In the context of a trust, the Trustee or Trust Administrator acts as a fiduciary for the Beneficiary. In the context of a power of attorney, the attorney-in-fact must not squander the assets of the person that has given the power of attorney to them. In all of these contexts, Georgia law requires specific duties to be performed and requires that the fiduciary be held to a high standard.
What is a Breach of Fiduciary Duty?
When a fiduciary violates their obligations to the other person, they have breached their fiduciary duty. In a case regarding an estate or trust, the breach of fiduciary duty harms the beneficiary or heir. Examples of this would include:
- Self-dealing: The Trustee or Executor uses their position as a fiduciary to benefit their own interests to the detriment of the Beneficiaries, such as selling trust or estate to assets to a family member for less than market value.
- Dishonest accounting: The Trustee or Executor intentionally gives the beneficiary inaccurate information about the contents or value of the trust or estate. This could be done to cover up for other types of breaches.
- Theft: The Trustee or Executor misappropriates property from the trust or estate.
- Conversion: The Trustee or Executor commits theft by indirect means, such as undervaluing liquidated assets and pocketing the difference.
- Fraud: The Trustee or Executor subvert the Will or trust through deception, misrepresentation or accepting bribes.
- Incompetence or dereliction: The Trustee, Administrator, or Executor fails to distribute the estate and trust assets within a reasonable time, through neglect or errors.
- Conflict of interest: The Trustee, Administrator, or Executor fails to disclose a personal interest in the estate or relationship with a beneficiary or heir.
- Excessive fees: The Executor or Trustee is takes unreasonably high compensation for his or her time and efforts. The reasonableness is determined both by context and by the express language of the Will or trust.
- Breach of the Prudent Investor Rule: The Trustee or Executor takes unreasonable risks when investing property held by the trust or estate, allowing the value of the trust or estate to significantly decline.
These issues commonly arise during Probate because the Administrators or Executors of estates are typically also Beneficiaries. This creates an incentive to be less than honest with other Beneficiaries or Heirs of the estate, even people to which the Administrator or Executor closely related.
If you feel that the Executor or Administrator of an estate is abusing their position for their own personal gain at your expense, it is important that you seek the help an experienced Georgia Probate and Estate Administration attorney, particularly one specializing in breach of fiduciary duty immediately.
We have represented Beneficiaries, Heirs, and other interested parties in Probate, Administration, and Year’s Support actions in the State of Georgia when issues related to breach of fiduciary responsibility have emerged, such as not receiving what they were entitled to receive under the Will or state law. Depending on the harm that was inflicted, it may be possible to recover compensatory damages.
If you feel that you have been wrongly accused of a breach of a fiduciary duty, it is also important to seek the help of an experienced Probate and Administration attorney immediately.
We have represented Executors, Administrators, and Trustees who made a good-faith effort at timely settlement, did not personally benefit or intentionally deprive Heirs of property, or could not fulfill their duties because of personal hardship or unavoidable Probate delays.
To discuss breach of fiduciary duty in depth with a qualified estate and trust litigation attorney, call our office at (404) 939-7562 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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