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Breach of Fiduciary Duty in New York

Executors and all have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the estate, the estate’s and the estate’s heirs. Breaching this duty can result in legal action and damages. A breach of fiduciary duty occurs when the fiduciary fails to act in accordance with the law, acts in their own interests, or fails to distribute the assets of the estate in a timely manner. Such breaches can result in significant harm to the beneficiaries, heirs, and estate. It is important to understand the legal obligations of a fiduciary and take them seriously to avoid any legal action. The experienced New York probate litigation lawyers at Stephen Bilkis & Associates can guide you in fulfilling your duties and protecting the interests of the estate, heirs, and beneficiaries.

Types of Fiduciary Duties

Fiduciary duties can vary depending on the nature of the relationship and the type of fiduciary involved. Some common types of fiduciary duties include:

  • Duty of loyalty: This duty requires the fiduciary to act in the best interests of the beneficiary and to avoid any conflicts of interest or self-dealing.
  • Duty of care: This duty requires the fiduciary to act with the level of care, skill, and diligence that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in a similar situation.
  • Duty of confidentiality: This duty requires the fiduciary to keep all confidential information related to the beneficiary or the relationship confidential.
  • Duty to disclose: This duty requires the fiduciary to disclose any information that may be relevant to the beneficiary's interests or that could impact the relationship.
Consequences of Breach of Fiduciary Duty

If you have been accused of breaching your fiduciary duty, contact an experienced New York probate litigation lawyer. The consequences of a breach of fiduciary duty can be severe, both in terms of financial and reputational harm. If a fiduciary is found to have breached their duty, they may be required to pay damages to the beneficiary, which can include compensatory and punitive damages. Additionally, the fiduciary may be required to forfeit any profits that they received as a result of the breach of duty.

In some cases, a court may also order equitable relief to prevent further harm to the beneficiary. This can include injunctions, rescission of contracts, or specific performance. A breach of fiduciary duty can also have reputational consequences for the fiduciary, potentially leading to loss of clients or business opportunities.

Defenses to Breach of Fiduciary Duty

There are several defenses that a fiduciary may raise to defend against a claim of breach of fiduciary duty. One defense is that there was not fiduciary duty. If a fiduciary relationship did not exist, then there can be no breach of duty. Another potential defense is good faith. If the fiduciary acted in good faith and with a reasonable belief that their actions were in the best interests of the beneficiary, then there may be no breach of duty. In addition, if the beneficiary consented to the fiduciary's actions, then there may be no breach of fiduciary duty.

Notable New York Case About Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Massey-Hughes v Massey 2021 NY Slip Op 07405 (2021). This case involves siblings, plaintiffs, and defendant Shawn Massey, all beneficiaries of the Edward J. Massey, Jr. Trust. The decedent's will appointed defendant as executor and trustee. Disputes arose over the administration of the estate, including allegations of misappropriation of funds, fraudulent execution of a promissory note, and wrongful retention of earnings. The court granted in part defendants' summary judgment motion, dismissing claims of breach of fiduciary duty and breach of trust based on misappropriation because of lack of evidence to substantiate the claims. However, the court modified the order, granting plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment on the accounting cause of action for more than the initially specified six years. The court also denied removal of defendant as trustee, citing factual disputes about the necessity of removal.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Breaching fiduciary duty as an executor or administrator in New York can have serious legal consequences. Executors and administrators must act in the best interests of the estate, its beneficiaries, and its heirs and failure to do so can result in damages and removal from the role. It is important to seek the advice of an experienced probate litigation attorney serving New York to ensure that you fulfill your duties in compliance with the law. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin