What is breach of trust?
Breach of Trust occurs when a trustee fails to honor his or her role as fiduciary. Some common examples include:
- Failing to communicate (big red flag!)
- Neglecting to act
- Ignoring the terms of the trust
- Borrowing or purchasing property from the trust for less than value
- Treating trust property as if it is his or her own property
- Acting as if unaccountable
- Bad investment decisions
What is the remedy for breach of trust?
The first priority is to hold the trustee accountable. Often times, family members acting as trustees operate under the false assumption that they answer to no one. To the contrary, a trustee must always act for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. You may need to petition the probate court to supervise the proper administration of the trust. I handle cases throughout Southern California, especially in and around Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
Secondly, the trustee is personally responsible for damages caused by breach of trust. If the trustee is also a beneficiary of the trust, the court can surcharge (i.e. reduce and reallocate) his or her share of the trust for the benefit of the wronged beneficiaries. In certain circumstances, you may be entitled to payment of your attorney’s fees.