The basis of fiduciary litigation is the special legal relationship that occurs between persons in certain circumstances. When a fiduciary relationship exists, one person owes the other the highest possible duty of care imposed by law. Some examples of fiduciary relationships include the relationship between:
- An attorney and a client
- A doctor and a patient
- A trustee and a beneficiary
- An executor and a legatee
- An administrator and an heir
- A conservator and a ward
- A guardian and a ward
- The board of directors and a corporation
- A financial professional and a client
In these relationships, the fiduciary must act in the best interests of the other person, must refrain from any self-dealing, must avoid conflicts of interest, must act only in good faith, must provide full disclosure, and must undertake other similar duties for the benefit of the other person. These ideas are not guidelines or abstract ethical considerations. The law protects clients in these relationships. We can help guide you through the expectations if you are a fiduciary, and help you decide if your rights have been violated if you are a client in such relationships.
Unfortunately, fiduciaries do not always live up to the high standards imposed on them by the law, and must be held accountable. Sometimes this can be as simple as educating the fiduciary as to their legal duties. However, when a fiduciary’s actions have caused significant damage, or they are unwilling to cooperate once the duty has been made known to them, the person to whom the fiduciary owes a duty may have to take action. Some acceptable actions in these situations include bringing a lawsuit to enforce the duty in order to receive compensation for the damage done, and in certain circumstances removing the fiduciary from the relationship.
Our firm’s focus on estate planning, business, and tax law, provides us with intimate knowledge of the duties owed by fiduciaries within these areas of law. We commonly represent persons in litigation who have been harmed by their fiduciaries, and can tackle ancillary issues that often arise amongst fellow beneficiaries, within a related business, or with a taxing authority.
The Burton Law Firm is active in the arena of fiduciary litigation. We are experienced in defending the rights of a person in a client role as well as defending a fiduciary who has been accused of wrongdoing. Please contact Michael Wilcox to schedule an appointment for a meeting to discuss your particular case today.