Our Oakland Probate Litigation Attorneys Contest and Defend Fiduciary Duties
Estate administrators, executors and trustees act in a fiduciary capacity. Therefore, they have a duty to provide beneficiaries with the information necessary to ensure proper management and distribution of the estate or trust. To comply with that duty, these estate administrators must provide beneficiaries with statements of financial transactions. This is called an accounting. Our San Francisco probate litigation attorneys frequently represent executors and trustees in these matters. We have over 30 years of experience in dealing with fiduciary accountings. If beneficiaries receive an accounting evidencing a breach of fiduciary duty, or if they fail to receive an accounting, then they may have an actionable claim against the executor or trustee in probate court.
Fiduciary Accounting for Probate Estates
When a person dies with a probate estate, the estate administrator or executor must file a fiduciary accounting. This closes the estate after paying debts and taxes and resolves creditors’ claims. But, it happens before distributing money or assets to beneficiaries. The accounting must be filed in accordance with the guidelines provided in the California Probate Code and must include all relevant financial information about the estate.
When the beneficiary receives the final probate accounting, if it is inadequate, incorrect or incomplete, the beneficiary may have an actionable claim in probate court against the administrator, executor or trustee. Fiduciaries may be liable to beneficiaries for monetary damages suffered for breaches of fiduciary duties.
Fiduciary Accounting for Trusts
Trust beneficiaries can receive annual trust accountings from the trustee. These show statements of assets, income and distributions from the trust. The California Probate Code details exactly what trust accountings must contain, which include very detailed schedules and documentation. If the trustee fails to produce a proper accounting, then the probate court may compel the trustee to do so upon motion by the beneficiary.
A beneficiary may have an action for breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee in the situations below. However, this list is not exhaustive:
- If the trustee fails to provide an accounting annually or after 60 days upon demand
- If the accounting is incomplete or inaccurate
- If the trust property is being mismanaged or not prudently invested
- If the trustee is not following the terms of the trust
The Triay Law Office Specializes in Fiduciary Accountings
If an accounting evidences a breach of fiduciary duty or if an executor or trustee fails to file a required accounting, then beneficiaries must file claims within the probate court to protect their rights. Charles Triay, the founder of Triay Law Office, has been practicing contested probate litigation for over 30 years. He has provided unsurpassed representation in contested accounting cases throughout Northern California. Unlike other law firms, the Triay Law Office gives clients the option to pay attorney fees on an hourly or contingency basis. Please contact our Bay Area probate litigation lawyers if you are a beneficiary who needs to file a claim against an estate or trust, or if you are a fiduciary who must defend an accounting in probate court.