Is there anything I can do about a breach of fiduciary duty?

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Is there anything I can do about a breach of fiduciary duty?

My mother was left executor of her late parents will. In the event of her passing, her husband becomes executor, and after he passes, the estate and trust was to go to me and my 4 siblings. We recently found out about this, and also that somehow, my mother and her husband lost the house in a foreclosure, after getting a reverse mortgage on the house. I have been asking them both for a copy of the will and they keep stalling. Suddenly, my step-father’s name is not on anything, only my mother’s name. My mother is claiming there is 130,000 left from the original trust. My step-father claims it is untrue. My siblings and I have never been notified of anything, including a copy of the will itself.

Asked on May 28, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you believe, as you evidently do, that an executor has breached fiduciary duty through either self-dealing (engaging in transactions for her benefit, not the benefit of the beneficiaries) or carelessness (making unreasonably bad or careless choices; fiduciaries are held to a duty of care as well as honesty), you can bring an action in chancery court (a part or divisision of county court) seeking to make the fiduciary "account" for her actions. If she has been found to have breached her duty, she can be required to personally repay wrongfully taken or carelessly lost amounts. Such an action can be procedurally complex; you are advised to consult with a probate or trusts and estates attorney about this.


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