Trustees owe the highest duty of care, the fiduciary standard of care, to the trust’s beneficiaries, but some do not realize this or do not care. If that’s the case, you can demand an accounting from them, along with other information about the trust–sometimes they won’t even provide you with a copy of the trust! They can also be liable for the damages due to their failure as a trustee, including attorney fees and costs.
They also have to avoid self-dealing, like giving themselves trust assets or buying them at below-market value, or selling to their friends and family at below-market value. They can’t favor one or more beneficiaries over others, and they can’t be hostile to beneficiaries either.
They have a duty to keep beneficiaries informed and communicate with them.
They have a duty to take only fair and reasonable compensation, and if the trust provides for a lower fee, they in most cases are obligated to take that fee.
They have a duty to follow the terms of the trust, including distribution provisions.
They have a duty to invest the trust assets as a prudent investor would.
They also can be liable for triple damages and the loss of their inheritance (if any) if they participated in financial elder abuse during the trust-maker’s lifetime.
If any of the above apply, you have remedies in probate court, including trustee removal, replacement of the trustee with a professional or bank trustee, restoration of assets to the trust, damages, attorney fees, costs, injunctions and lis pendens to protect trust property. Talk to an experienced probate litigation attorney about your rights and how to protect your inheritance–if you have questions, give us a call at (888) 503-7615 or visit our contact page.