A Fiduciary in New York has many duties and obligations. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles discussing these matters. Executors, Administrators and Trustees must not breach their fiduciary duties. There are many different obligations. Generally, a fiduciary is held to a very high standard by the Courts. The reason for this view is that a fiduciary is entrusted with a tremendous amount of authority and discretion and is required to act in the best interest of the persons that are to be benefited by the fiduciary’s actions.
A fiduciary’s powers are very extensive. For example, in the case of an estate fiduciary such as an Executor or Administrator, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ Powers”, sets forth many areas in which the executor or administrator may act. Among the many powers enumerated in the statute is the power to invest estate property, to sell or mortgage property, to settle claims and to pay proper and reasonable estate expenses. In addition, a person’s Last Will or Trust can give a fiduciary powers that are not provided by the statute. Such documents can also limit or direct a fiduciary with respect to the exercise of certain powers.When a fiduciary abuses his authority or breaches his fiduciary duty the Court has the authority to suspend the fiduciary’s powers and to revoke his appointment. Earlier blog posts have discussed this issue and reference has been made to the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Sections 711 and 719 which concern the revocation and suspension of fiduciary appointments.
I have represented clients in many cases where issues have arisen regarding the revocation or suspension of a fiduciary appointment. In most of these cases the Surrogate’s Court requires that an aggrieved party file a petition to have the appointment revoked. The Court will then hold a hearing concerning the alleged breaches of fiduciary conduct.
In Matter of Jakia A.F., decided by Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez on April 11, 2016, the Court suspended and revoked letters of guardianship that were granted to an infant’s mother to safeguard her child’s property. The mother withdrew a substantial portion of the guardianship funds from the guardianship account without Court authorization.
The guardian also failed to appear in Court to respond to the allegations filed by a Guardian ad Litem who was appointed by the Court to investigate the misappropriated funds.
Cases involving a breach of fiduciary duty can be very complex particularly where there are issues concerning complicated financial transactions. There are various Surrogate’s Court proceedings in which the actions of a fiduciary can be examined including accounting proceedings and removal proceedings. If you have a question or issue regarding a breach of fiduciary duty or estate settlement call me now for a free discussion.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.
Jules Martin Haas provides his clients and members of the community with a free monthly e-newsletter which contains articles covering a variety of legal topics including estate planning, financial matters and real estate. If you wish to be placed on the e-newslist, simply e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can cancel receiving the newsletter at anytime.