The Duties of Trustees
Many Californians, especially seniors, create trusts to hold their assets. Sometimes, the individual creating the trust (known as the “settlor”) also acts as his or her own trustee. Often, however, settlors appoint others to act as trustees. Appointed trustees may include family members, financial advisors, or certified fiduciaries. All of these individuals are held to the legal standard of fiduciary duty once they begin to act as trustee.
Unfortunately, some of these appointed individuals breach the fiduciary duty they owe by embezzling or commingling funds, failing to put the trust’s (and settlor/beneficiary’s) interest first, or losing or mismanaging trust property. The California and Santa Clara County trusts and financial elder abuse attorneys at Evans Law Firm represent settlors and trust beneficiaries who have suffered injury as a result of a trustee’s breach of fiduciary duty. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a breach of fiduciary duty by a trustee in California, contact the Evans Law Firm trusts and financial elder abuse attorneys at (415) 441-8669 and we can help.
California law provides a variety of remedies for those who have been injured as a result of a trustee’s breach of fiduciary duty. California Probate Code Section 16420 allows an injured party:
(1) To compel the trustee to perform the trustee’s duties.
(2) To enjoin the trustee from committing a breach of trust.
(3) To compel the trustee to redress a breach of trust by payment of money or otherwise.
(4) To appoint a receiver or temporary trustee to take possession of the trust property and administer the trust.
(5) To remove the trustee.
(6) Subject to Section 18100, to set aside acts of the trustee.
(7) To reduce or deny compensation of the trustee.
(8) Subject to Section 18100, to impose an equitable lien or a constructive trust on trust property.
(9) Subject to Section 18100, to trace trust property that has been wrongfully disposed of and recover the property or its proceeds.
The Probate Code also expressly allows injured parties to pursue any other remedies available under California. For injured parties who are seniors, this allows the senior to pursue the remedies available under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, Welf. & Inst. Code § 15600 et seq. Under that statute, the court awards mandatory attorneys’ fees and costs to the injured senior under certain circumstances. The senior may also be entitled to extra damages in certain instances.
Whether you are a senior or not, always appoint as trustee someone you trust completely. A trustee has broad authority over the assets placed in the trust. California law holds that trustee to the high standard of fiduciary duty with respect to those assets. If the trustee breaches that trust, the injured party should seek counsel in pursuing all available remedies against any trustee who has breached that duty.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a breach of fiduciary duty by a trustee in Santa Clara County or elsewhere in California or, contact Ingrid Evans and the other Evans Law Firm trusts and financial elder abuse attorneys at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our attorneys have experience with complex securities cases, arbitrations, and mediations; and complicated financial contracts and large insurance companies. We can help guide your case through a jury trial or toward an equitable settlement. We also handle cases involving physical and financial elder abuse, other types of qui tam and whistleblower cases, nursing home abuse, whole life insurance and universal life insurance, and indexed, variable, and fixed annuities.