A breach of fiduciary duty can have a significant negative impact on an estate and its beneficiaries. It can lead to financial losses, delays in estate administration, and emotional distress. In some cases, it can even result in criminal charges. However, if you believe you have been the victim of a breach of fiduciary duty or power-of-attorney abuse, get in touch with experienced estate lawyers in Los Angeles; you still have legal options.
Before pursuing legal action, it’s best to understand what constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty. Let’s explore some of the common examples and, if you feel that your situation matches these scenarios, we encourage you to contact the expert legal staff at Catanese & Wells.
Misappropriation of Funds
One of the most common breaches of fiduciary duty occurs when the fiduciary, such as an executor or trustee, misappropriates estate funds for their own personal use. This can happen in a number of ways, such as:
- Withdrawing large sums of money from estate accounts without authorization
- Writing checks to themselves or family members from estate accounts
- Making unauthorized investments with estate funds
- Selling estate assets without authorization
If you or your family have been the victims of such infractions, our legal team can file a civil lawsuit against the trustee(s) to seek restitution. If necessary, we may also pursue criminal charges for embezzlement.
Self-dealing occurs when a fiduciary uses their position to gain a financial benefit for themselves or their family members, rather than acting in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. For example, a trustee may sell estate property to themselves or a relative at below-market value. Or, an executor may give themselves a larger share of the estate than what they are entitled to.
In cases of self-dealing, the fiduciary must prove that their actions were in the best interests of the estate. If they cannot do so, they may be held liable for any financial losses suffered by the estate.
Breach of Trust
A breach of trust occurs when a fiduciary violates the terms of the trust agreement. This can happen in a number of ways, such as:
- Failing to follow the terms of the trust
- Failing to invest trust funds properly
- Making unauthorized distributions from the trust
- Commingling trust funds with personal funds
- Using trust funds for personal expenses
If the trustee breached their fiduciary duty, they may be held liable for any resulting financial losses. In some cases, the court may even remove the trustee and appoint a new one.
What to Do If You Suspect a Breach of Fiduciary Duty or Power-of-Attorney Abuse
If you have any reason to believe that you or your family have been the victim of a breach of fiduciary duty or power-of-attorney abuse, we encourage you to contact our team of experienced estate litigation attorneys as soon as possible.
Catanese & Wells is located in Westlake Village, CA, and is proud to serve the greater Los Angeles, Ventura Country area. Contact our head office at (818) 707-0407 or submit an inquiry through our contact page today.