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How can a breach of fiduciary duty affect probate?

As you administer a loved one’s estate, it can cause undue stress to have to worry about how to deal with a breach of duty.

A fiduciary has a responsibility to the beneficiaries to handle any assets or money properly.

Promises and trust

According to FindLaw, a fiduciary relationship is one built on an agreement that one party will fulfill the promises of the other party’s will to the fullest extent. You seal this agreement with either a written contract or an implied but unwritten promise. An unwritten promise can come about due to the nature of the relationship.

Probate typically contains written legal promises. When the fiduciaries who are responsible for handling the estate break these promises by failing to perform their duties, they could be liable for damages.

Usage of money

These breaches of liability can involve multiple aspects of your fiduciary duty. Purposefully siphoning money off of an account to pay for personal items is one way to misuse funds. Additionally, any interference when distributing the necessary items from the trust or will is illegal. You should never use money meant for distribution to purchase items for yourself.

Fulfilling duties

You also must complete the scope of your duties to the best of your ability. You should never act out of self-interest or because of a conflict of interest, especially since doing so puts you at risk for having to pay damages. Making poor choices that lead to a loss of assets for the beneficiaries means you have not fulfilled your fiduciary duty. Trust is a key element in any relationship when dealing with a will.