Breach of Fiduciary Duty in New York Surrogate’s Court

Fiduciary dutyThe New York Surrogate’s Court plays a vital role in handling matters related to the administration of estates, trusts, and guardianships. As a specialized court, it deals with complex cases that often involve individuals acting as fiduciaries. These individuals, such as executors, administrators, trustees, and guardians, are required to uphold the highest standards of loyalty, care, and good faith towards the interests of the beneficiaries.

When a fiduciary fails to meet these standards, they may be held liable for breach of fiduciary duty. This article provides an overview of breach of fiduciary duty in New York Surrogate’s Court, including the duties and obligations of fiduciaries, the consequences of breaching these duties, and remedies available to affected parties.

Fiduciary Duties and Obligations

A fiduciary owes several duties to the beneficiaries, including:

  • Duty of loyalty: Fiduciaries must act solely in the best interest of the beneficiaries, avoiding conflicts of interest and self-dealing.
  • Duty of care: Fiduciaries must exercise reasonable care and diligence in managing the assets and affairs of the estate, trust, or guardianship.
  • Duty of impartiality: Fiduciaries must treat all beneficiaries fairly and impartially, without favoring one beneficiary over another.
  • Duty to account: Fiduciaries must maintain accurate records and provide periodic accountings to the beneficiaries and the court.
  • Duty to preserve and protect assets: Fiduciaries must take appropriate steps to safeguard and manage the assets entrusted to them, including prudent investment and proper insurance coverage.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

A breach of fiduciary duty occurs when a fiduciary fails to fulfill one or more of their obligations to the beneficiaries. Common examples of breaches include mismanagement of assets, engaging in self-dealing or conflicts of interest, failing to account for transactions, and neglecting to distribute assets in a timely manner.

Consequences of Breach

When a fiduciary breaches their duties, they may face several consequences, including:

  • Personal liability: The fiduciary may be held personally liable for any losses or damages suffered by the beneficiaries as a result of the breach.
  • Removal: The court may remove the fiduciary from their position and appoint a replacement.
  • Surcharge: The court may order the fiduciary to personally compensate the beneficiaries for any losses or damages resulting from the breach.
  • Injunction: The court may issue an injunction to prevent the fiduciary from further breaches.

Remedies for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Beneficiaries who believe that a fiduciary has breached their duties can take several steps to seek remedies, including:

  • Demand an accounting: Beneficiaries can request a formal accounting from the fiduciary to review their actions and determine if a breach has occurred.
  • Petition the court: Beneficiaries can file a petition with the Surrogate’s Court to seek relief, such as removal of the fiduciary, surcharge, or an injunction.
  • Mediation or arbitration: In some cases, parties may agree to resolve disputes through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, rather than litigation.

Breach of fiduciary duty in New York Surrogate’s Court is a serious matter that can result in significant consequences for the fiduciary and financial harm to the beneficiaries. Understanding the duties and obligations of fiduciaries, as well as the remedies available to beneficiaries, is crucial for protecting the interests of all parties involved. If you believe that a fiduciary has breached their duties, call (800) 939-0235 for a free case evaluation.

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