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What is breach of fiduciary responsibility in probate?

When you're dealing with a loved one's death, the last thing you want to worry about is how you're going to make sure that the individuals charged with overseeing the financial matters are behaving. Many people who take on these jobs do so with every intention of doing what they're supposed to do. Unfortunately, there are some who don't take that duty seriously.

Breach of fiduciary responsibility is tragic in all cases, but it seems even worse when you're already upset about the passing of a loved one. It's important to understand what breach of fiduciary duty means just in case you ever face this.

What is the fiduciary duty?

Fiduciary duty means that the individual who handles the estate must work for the best interests of the heirs and beneficiaries. They must ensure that they're considering how everything they do will affect the individuals who are set to receive something from the estate. They can never act in their own best interests.

There are three elements that must be present if you're going to prove that there was a breach of fiduciary duty and that compensation is in order. These include:

  • Financial damages: You must have suffered some type of financial damages because of the breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Duty: The person must have had a duty to act in your best interests. This is established when they accept the role with the estate.
  • Breach: You must be able to show what actions by the individual led to the breach of fiduciary duty. This is done through showing neglect of duties, failure to disclose information, misuse of the position and similar factors.

What should you do if you suspect breach of fiduciary duty?

If you're going through probate with a loved one's estate now and have reason to believe that there's a breach of fiduciary duty occurring, you should determine whether legal action is appropriate. Discussing your case with someone familiar with these situations might provide you with some insight as to what you need to do. It's imperative that you protect your loved one's estate.

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