Breaching Fiduciary Duties and Its Impact

What Is a Fiduciary Duty? Examples and Types Explained

Breach of fiduciary duties refers to instances where personal representatives of the estates, trustees, and guardians fail to fulfill their duties. The relationships involving fiduciary duties involve confidence, trust, and some form of dependence on the fiduciary for specific situations. The fiduciaries are required to take the best steps to ensure that the interests and rights of the person are protected. An estate lawyer in Ridgeland can help understand their role and its importance.  

In cases of personal representatives, they are required to manage the estate as per the interest of the beneficiaries. 

Generally, a breach of fiduciary duties comes under the civil cause of action instead of criminal offenses in some states. Suppose someone can display that the fiduciary relationship is causing harm by breach of fiduciary duties. In that case, it is possible to file a civil lawsuit challenging the fiduciary to recover compensation for the damages. However, the civil lawsuit does not end up in imprisonment or criminal records for the fiduciary. 

The exception is that breaching fiduciary duties by engaging in acts like embezzlement, theft, fraud, or partaking in unfair practices like abusing or exploiting elders or disabled individuals are considered criminal offenses. Often the agency responsible for prosecution does not have the time and resources available for the litigation of such instances except for highly severe conditions. Civil courts handle the cases. 

Proving breach of fiduciary duties 

Suppose it is found that the fiduciary responsible for taking care of someone or an estate is violating their duties. In that case, the principal is allowed to raise a civil lawsuit seeking the available legal help. The consequences of filing a lawsuit can range from termination of fiduciary to monetary reimbursement for damages faced by the principal due to the breach of duties. 

However, to receive compensation, it is crucial to prove the following things.

  • The principal must prove that a fiduciary relationship took place.
  • The principal must prove that the fiduciary violated a fiduciary duty or engaged in breaching it.
  • The principal must prove that the breach of duty leads to severe danger or harmful situations for the principal.

The personal representatives or fiduciaries are legally responsible for acting in the best interest of the principal as well as everyone involved in the process. It also involves creditors and beneficiaries of the estate. They are required to make expeditious and efficient decisions regarding the property. Suppose they self-deal, mismanage or fail to inform the beneficiaries. In that case, it is considered a breach of fiduciary duty. Failure to file the required accountings, embezzlement, misappropriation of an estate, and payment of excessive compensation are also considered breaches of fiduciary duty. 

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