Trustees and personal representatives are considered fiduciaries and a number of duties are imposed upon them by Florida law. Fiduciaries must comply with the highest standards of conduct. Examples of responsibilities and obligations a fiduciary owes to beneficiaries and legatees are a:
- Duty of Loyalty. A fiduciary must not be in a position in which his self-interest conflicts with his duty to protect the interests of the beneficiaries. The fiduciary is prohibited from using his position for self-dealing or to benefit himself at the expense of the beneficiaries of the estate or trust.
- Duty of Disclosure. A fiduciary is required to fully disclose all material facts to the beneficiaries of the trust or estate. The duty to make full disclosure goes beyond the obligation to maintain accounts. It encompasses revealing all material information the trustee or personal representative becomes aware of in her fiduciary capacity.
- Duty of Reasonable Care. The fiduciary must exercise the degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would devote to her own affairs. A violation of this duty is often the cause of litigation because interested parties often have diverse views regarding what is reasonable or prudent. A common example is in the context of investment strategy for trust assets. What one person considers conservative and prudent may be viewed as not proactive enough by another beneficiary.
If you have been appointed to act as a fiduciary or you believe a fiduciary has violated his or her duties, contact Maura Curran for assistance.