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Breach of Trust

Written by on Jan 20, 2012| Posted in: Trust Litigation


A trustee of a trust has several duties and obligations to the beneficiaries in administering a trust, including but not limited to: administering the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and purposes (Fla.Stat. §736.0801); a duty of loyalty and to administer the trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries (Fla.Stat. §736.0802); the trustee shall act impartially in administering the trust property giving due regard to the respective interests of multiple beneficiaries (Fla. Stat. §736.0803); in administering a trust, the trustee shall only incur expenses that are reasonable in relation to the trust property, the purposes of the trust and the skills of the trustee (Fla. Stat. §736.0805); a trustee shall keep clear, distinct, and accurate records of the administration of the trust (Fla. Stat. §736.0810); a trustee shall keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration (Fla. Stat. §736.0813). A violation by a trustee of a duty the trustee owes to a beneficiary is a breach of trust. In the event a breach of trust occurs, or may occur, the court has several actions it may take to remedy a breach of trust.

Florida Statute §736.1001(2), “Remedies for breach of trust,” provides a non-exclusive list of those actions the Court may take to remedy a breach of trust. The Court may:

a) Compel the trustee to perform the trustee’s duties;

b) Enjoin the trustee from committing a breach of trust;

c) Compel the trustee to redress a breach of trust by paying money or restoring property or by other means;

d) Order a trustee to account;

e) Appoint a special fiduciary to take possession of the trust property and administer the trust;

f) Suspend the trustee;

g) Remove the trustee as provided in s. 736.0706;

h) Reduce or deny compensation to the trustee;

i) Void an act of the trustee, impose a lien or a constructive trust on trust property, or trace trust property wrongfully disposed of an recover the property or its proceeds; or

j) Order any other appropriate relief.

            In addition to the above list of actions a court may use to remedy a breach of trust, it may also find that a trustee who commits a breach of trust is liable for the greater of the amount required to restore the value of trust property and trust distributions to what they would have been if the breach had not occurred including lost income, capital gain, or appreciation that would have resulted from proper administration; or the profit the trustee made by reason of the breach. (Fla. Stat. §736.1002).

            If you as a beneficiary of a trust have been damaged by a breaching trustee, do not despair as there are several remedies at the court’s disposal. The Court has full discretion when fashioning the appropriate relief based upon the unique facts of your case and the specific damages you have incurred. An experienced trust litigation attorney can present your facts and the necessary evidence the Court will require to determine what specific relief is most appropriate to remedy the specific breaches committed by your trustee.

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