A fiduciary refers to an individual or an entity that is entrusted to oversee the personal and financial affairs of another person. Fiduciary duty can be triggered by a wide range of legal arrangements. In the context of estate planning, the issue of fiduciary duty often refers to the legal obligation imposed on the executor of an estate or the trustee of a trust account.
There are various rights and obligations that a Texas fiduciary is obligated to comply with. If a fiduciary fails to take reasonable steps to prioritize the best interests of the beneficiary, it could open them up to a lawsuit over a breach of fiduciary duty in Sugar Land.
If you are the beneficiary of a will, trust, or other estate planning instrument, and you believe the fiduciary has fallen short in the proper discharge of their legal duties, it could be wise to seek counsel from a knowledgeable trusts and estates attorney. The legal team of Romano & Sumner could explain your legal options and help you pursue all available recourse to hold a fiduciary accountable for their default of duty.
The legal obligations of a fiduciary can vary according to the type of arrangement, but some general duties apply across the board. A fiduciary relationship is common in wills, trusts, or powers of attorneys in which an individual would designate an agent to act on their behalf in the event that they suffer a disabling injury, are incapacitated, or pass away. The person who names a fiduciary to act on their behalf is often referred to as the principal.
Any decisions of the fiduciary should be made with the overarching interests of the principal in mind. In all their dealings, the fiduciary should act with honesty and equity, and refrain from making decisions that serve their own interests instead of those of the principal. A fiduciary should not withhold information as it relates to the principal’s interests and handles the maintenance of their assets with the utmost care.
A typical example where a fiduciary relationship is created is when someone enacts a medical power of attorney. In such situations, the fiduciary is authorized to make determinations about the principal’s medical care if they are incapacitated and no longer able to make these determinations on their own. If a Sugar Land fiduciary neglects any of the duties imposed by a trust or other fundamental structure of an estate plan, they may be found to have breached their legal obligation.
Several key factors need to be present for a beneficiary or other interested party to hold a fiduciary accountable for an alleged breach of fiduciary duty.
First, the fiduciary relationship must be established before the violation took place. A grantor naming a trustee to oversee and manage assets that have been placed in a trust is an instance where a fiduciary relationship would be established.
Next, the fiduciary must have been derelict in their legal duty. In other words, the fiduciary’s actions must have constituted a breach of the duty established by the particular estate document, be it a trust, power of attorney, or otherwise.
The third and final element of proving that a fiduciary breached their duty is to show that their violation provided themselves some form of advantage or, alternatively, harmed the beneficiary in some way.
If all elements of a breach are present, and it can be shown that the fiduciary contravened their legal obligations, they may lose their position. A local legal representative can also persuade the court to order the fiduciary to pay compensation to the injured parties if their actions resulted in economic damages.
There is a significant burden of proof needed to establish a breach of fiduciary duty in Sugar Land. If you are concerned that a violation of legal obligation has occurred, you should contact a seasoned attorney as soon as possible to investigate the matter further and offer their legal guidance. To receive a comprehensive evaluation of your case, call the lawyers of Romano & Sumner today.
Romano & Sumner, PLLC