Probate Litigation

Did the trustee breach his or her duties? What can I do if a trustee violated his or her trustee duties?

A trustee has duties to the beneficiaries under a trust. These duties include the duty of loyalty, duty to administer the trust according to its terms, the duty of proper recordkeeping, the duty to inform, the duty to report, and a duty of prudent administration.

If a trustee breaches his or her duties to the beneficiaries, then a claim can be brought in probate court to make it right. If successful on such a claim, the court could:

  • require the trustee to perform his or her duties as required under the trust
  • force the trustee to pay money
  • prevent the trustee from causing more harm to the beneficiaries
  • appoint a special fiduciary to take control of and administer the trust
  • suspend or remove the trustee
  • turn back the clock on bad acts of the trustee
  • impose a lien on trust property
  • impose a constructive trust on trust property
  • order other proper relief

If a court finds that the trustee committed a breach of trust, it will require the trustee to pay the greater of the amount required to restore the value of the trust property and the trust distributions that would have been made but for the breach; or the profit the trustee made by reason of the breach. Generally, a beneficiary must bring a claim within three years of the (1) removal, resignation or death of the trustee; (2) the termination of the beneficiary’s interest in the trust; or (3) the termination of the trust, whichever occurs earliest. Certain actions can shorten this window even earlier. In certain claims, the recovery of attorneys’ fees could be awarded by the court.