Knox Saga Illustrates Importance of Choosing a Trustee For New York Trusts

In what is being described as possibly the largest probate court award in New York history, HSBC Bank USA has been ordered to pay more than $25 million to seven trusts of the Seymour Knox Family for “negligent and Imprudent” handling of the trust funds dating back to the mid-1990s.

The Buffalo News reported the suit was launched by the bank in 2006 when it requested to be discharged as manager of the Knox trusts.

This case illustrates the risks associated with institutional trust administration. A New York City probate lawyer can assist in establishing a trust, which can have many advantages, including tax benefits and privacy.

Choosing a Trustee for a New York trust is an important step, which can greatly impact the ability of a trust to protect an estate’s wealth for future generations. A New York trust lawyer can best advise you on establishing a proper system of checks and balances.

In this case, the bank may also be ordered to reimburse the family for stock trading commissions, attorney fees and court expenses. A guardian ad litem appointed to represent the Knox children said the award rights decades of wrongs and replenishes a trust that deteriorated over time as a result of the bank’s actions as a corporate trustee.

The Guardian blamed the trust’s deterioration on inattention and bad decision making on the part of the bank.

By law, the bank had to petition the court for approval to be relieved of its duties as a fiduciary. At that time, attorneys for the families reviewed the status of the trusts and found numerous red flags. The Knox family is a legendary business family in the Buffalo area, perhaps best known statewide for bringing the Buffalo Sabres into the National Hockey League.

New York City Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. Please call me (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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