An area trust litigation lawyer is there to advise you if you are a beneficiary who believes that a trustee has acted improperly. Likewise you might also wish to hire a West Virginia trust litigation attorney if you are the trustee and have been accused of any type of negligence or improper actions. This is known as breach of fiduciary duty and these kinds of claims could be brought by any beneficiary to a trust.
The most common reasons for trustees to be sued can all lead to additional stress and expenses for the trust. A prolonged litigation is rarely in the best interests of the trustee or the beneficiaries of that trust. This is what makes it so important to retain the services of a trust litigation lawyer in West Virginia straight away.
Understanding the Role of Fiduciaries
Trustees are classified as fiduciaries, meaning that they are held to a high legal standard. Given the responsibilities as well as the tasks that must be satisfied by a fiduciary, there are a few different grounds for filing suit against a trustee. One common example is negligent behavior.
Trustees can get sued for a broad range of reasons and may even face personal liability if they are not able to rectify the wrongs that they made that harmed the financial value of the trust. Some of the most common reasons that you might reach out to a trust litigation attorney in West Virginia include:
- Failure to comply with instructions of the trust
- Wasting property belonging to the trust
- Making questionable gifts with trust funds
- Coercion, fraud or duress involving the trust
- Embezzling from trust property
- Personally benefitting from trust assets
- Co-mingling your personal assets with those belonging to the trust
- Being unable to perform the duties
- Unnecessarily exposing trust assets to risks
If you believe that a trustee has acted improperly, one of the first things you should do is speak with a reputable trust litigation lawyer in your area to determine the most appropriate course of action. Not every action undertaken by a trustee or omission will necessarily expose them to breach of fiduciary duty.
Defining Breach of Fiduciary Duty
A breach of fiduciary duty occurs in a legal sense when a person who is acting in a position of trust violates the duties that they owe to the principal. In this case the principal would be the person who created the trust. The law determines that trustees have to act only in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Legal duties of trustees include:
- Acting in good faith towards trust beneficiaries
- Providing honest and open information to trustees
- Managing trust assets reasonably
- Providing an accounting of all financial actions taken on behalf of the trust
- Treating beneficiaries with care and respect
- Prioritizing beneficiary interests over their own
Trustee negligence happens when a breach of fiduciary duty occurs resulting from a lack of ability, care or attention. This is different from an intentional breach. Even though actions like embezzlement or fraud indicate self-serving and malicious behavior, negligence typically occurs because a trustee was unaware or careless about their duties as a trustee.
Can a Trustee Be Removed?
One of the leading reasons to contact an experienced trust litigation attorney is because you believe the trustee needs to be removed from their role. Trustee removal violations include:
- Not keeping beneficiaries informed
- Using trust assets for tehri personal benefit
- Wasting assets belonging to the trust
- Failing to enforce claims or defend those legal actions that could involve the trust
- Failing to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries
You should contact a trust litigation attorney if you believe that you have any situations related to these circumstances and need further information about what to do next in this difficult situation. Do not hesitate to get help from an attorney.