Probate Attorneys and Breach of Fiduciary Duty

A probate attorney is a legal professional who administers wills and ensures that an individual’s estate is well-managed and protected. Responsibilities include overseeing the writing of the will or the management of an estate, the appointment of a fiduciary and ensuring that an individual’s assets are protected should they become infirm or pass away. In cases of breach of fiduciary duty, a probate lawyer will fight for fairness and to ensure that the will is recognized in a court of law.

What Is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is anyone who manages money or property on behalf of another person. This can often be a financial or legal professional who oversees the funds or properties of another person as part of their job responsibilities. However, a fiduciary isn’t necessarily someone who’s acting in the role as a professional. A family member or friend who is granted power of attorney for a loved one would also be considered a fiduciary.

What Are the Expectations of a Fiduciary?

The primary expectation of a fiduciary is that they act in the best interests of the person whose assets they oversee. This means managing these assets carefully. One expectation of a fiduciary is that they will never intermingle their own finances with the finances they’re managing for a third party. For example, a person who has power of attorney over an elderly loved one should maintain separate accounts for themselves and for the funds set aside for said loved one’s care. These are terms that are often agreed upon with the help of a probate attorney in Las Vegas. A fiduciary is also expected to maintain transparent financial records and should be able to account for any debits or credits to the accounts they manage.

What Is Breach of Fiduciary Duty?

A breach of fiduciary duty occurs when a fiduciary is found to have failed to act in the best interest of their client. Their motivations don’t always have to be nefarious; indeed, a breach of fiduciary duty can occur when the fiduciary believed themselves to be acting in the best interests of their client but mismanaged funds due to human error.

While many breach of fiduciary duty cases are the unfortunate result of human error, many are indeed the result of greed or intentional acts by the fiduciary to unlawfully mismanage assets for their own personal gain.

Is Breach of Fiduciary Duty a Criminal Act?

Breach of fiduciary duty becomes a criminal act when there is evidence that demonstrates that the fiduciary set out to intentionally defraud or embezzle the money or property of an individual whose assets they had a legal obligation to protect. For example, if an elderly person has appointed a relative to act as their fiduciary, they may have established that their finances are only to be used for their care and well-being, which often occurs with the help of probate lawyers in Las Vegas. If the fiduciary is found to have moved money into their own personal accounts or to have sold property that they were not authorized to sell, it may be grounds for criminal charges.

Is Breach of Fiduciary Duty Grounds for a Civil Trial?

Breach of fiduciary duty is absolutely grounds for a civil trial. To successfully pursue a breach of fiduciary case, it’s important that you are able to prove a few key points. First, it should be provable that the defendant was legally acting as a fiduciary at the time the alleged mismanagement of assets occurred. For example, one would not be able to pursue a case against a fiduciary for accessing and using an elderly relative’s money if the transactions occurred before they were legally put in charge of the relative’s assets.

Furthermore, as a plaintiff you will have to present evidence that the fiduciary intentionally mismanaged funds or failed in their duty to oversee property. It’s important that you can demonstrate to the court that the victimized individual incurred real and tangible damages due to the fiduciary’s failure to act in their best interest.

Finally, you will want to establish whether or not the fiduciary acted out of negligence or if they sought to intentionally mismanage the funds for their own personal gain. There is a difference between a fiduciary who showed incompetence in their duties versus one who intentionally set out to defraud the individual that they were supposed to protect for their own personal gain. That difference might affect the arguments that your probate lawyer presents at trial.

Reach Out to a Probate Attorney in Las Vegas

When a person is appointed as the fiduciary to a vulnerable person’s assets, there is an element of trust that is imperative in ensuring that the vulnerable person is protected and that their assets aren’t mismanaged. In the event of a breach of fiduciary duty, the person whose trust was violated deserves justice and restitution, which oftentimes means a day in court. This also often means contacting a probate attorney who can help you with the next steps to take as you pursue justice.

If you suspect that a fiduciary has mismanaged the funds that they were appointed to oversee on behalf of either yourself or a loved one, it is highly advisable that you reach out to a probate lawyer in Las Vegas who may help to guide you in your pursuit of fairness.

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