A Business-First Approach To The Practice Of Law

Fiduciary Wrongdoing

A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care an individual can have on behalf of another. It is such a high standard that those acting in a fiduciary capacity are held personally liable for breaches. Fiduciaries have a lot of power over other people’s property and estate, but if you suspect someone of breaching their fiduciary duty, you have options.

At Saavedra-Goodwin, our attorneys are skilled and invested in providing our clients across Fort Lauderdale with legal insight and advocacy. Our group is adept at both litigation and alternative dispute resolution, and they leverage a broad base of conflict resolution skills to take on concerns about fiduciaries abusing their position.

What Does Fiduciary Wrongdoing Look Like?

In many cases, fiduciary duty comes with significant rights, such as the right to compensation. And because a fiduciary is acting in the best interests of another, they may make choices that some find odd. However, fiduciaries must act “in good faith,” meaning they make the best choices.

All that is a given, there are many ways that a fiduciary can abuse their position, and they include:

  • Suspicious compensation: Fiduciaries, such as trustees or personal representatives, can take a fee for their work on a trust or an estate. Those fees must be reasonable and in line with their work.
  • Outright theft: With so much power, it’s easy for fiduciaries to redirect funds into their accounts or for their personal use.
  • Mismanagement: Even if a fiduciary is acting in good faith, they could have poor judgment, and the trust or estate could face severe losses.

If you have concerns that the estate or trust you are a beneficiary of is suffering from fiduciary wrongdoing, you have the right to demand an accounting of their actions. However, dense financial documentation can be difficult to parse on your own.

What Is A Breach Of Duty By A Trustee Or Executor In Florida?

In Florida, a breach of duty by a trustee or executor occurs when they fail to act in the best interests of the trust or estate as required by their fiduciary responsibilities, resulting in financial harm to the trust or its beneficiaries. Proving this breach requires the harmed party to show a direct link between the fiduciary’s actions and the financial loss experienced. Examples of this can include:

  • Not maintaining accurate financial records for the estate.
  • Selecting vendors or professionals for personal gain rather than their quality of service.
  • Ignoring the trust’s explicit instructions.
  • Failing to protect estate assets from claims by creditors that are not enforceable.
  • Withholding information that beneficiaries are entitled to.
  • Showing bias towards one beneficiary over others without justification.

Any of these actions can lead to legal action against trustees or executors who do not adhere to their responsibilities to the estate and its beneficiaries.

Can You Sue An Executor Or Trustee In Florida?

In Florida, beneficiaries have the legal right to sue an executor or trustee if they suspect a breach of fiduciary duty. This can be for various different reasons, such as a demand for an accounting of the trust or estate assets, challenging excessive compensation for the trustee or executor, accusations of theft of assets, or mismanagement of trust assets.

When such a lawsuit is filed, a court will examine the evidence to determine whether the executor or trustee has indeed failed to fulfill their obligations. If a breach is established, the court may impose various remedies, which could include monetary compensation for losses, removal of the executor or trustee, and potentially the imposition of other legal penalties. This is essential to protect the rights of beneficiaries and ensure the proper administration of an estate according to the trust documents and Florida law.

Can You Remove An Executor Or Trustee In Florida?

The removal of an executor or trustee can be sought by beneficiaries or interested parties if the fiduciary fails to adequately perform their duties or acts against the estate’s best interests. Grounds for removal include incapacity, negligence, conflict of interest, or not adhering to court orders, among others. The process can be complex and may require legal proceedings, but it’s designed to protect the estate and ensure the decedent’s wishes are respected.

Saavedra-Goodwin’s Team Can Help You

In addition to having experience in all areas of business and estate planning law, we also maintain a network of skilled, certified public accountants. We collaborate with you and our partners to analyze complex financial situations ahead of you. We can detect issues of fiduciary malfeasance and help you take the steps you need to address them.

Reach out to us today to learn how we can make a difference for you. Call (954) 928-9568 or email using this form.