Protecting Your Golden Years

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Fiduciary duty requires acting in a forthright manner

The idea of not being in control can be difficult for many Georgia residents to accept. However, there are many instances in which one person has the authority to handle important matters. Often, when a person is put in charge of handling the affairs of someone else, that person has a fiduciary duty, meaning that he or she must act in the best interests of those for whom that person is working.

Many types of fiduciary relationships exist, and when it comes to handling the final affairs of an estate, an executor has a fiduciary duty toward the estate and the heirs. Additionally, a trustee has this duty toward the beneficiaries of the trust. In these roles, the parties should act in a way that follows the instructions provided and that keeps the focus on the benefits of the heirs and beneficiaries.

An executor or trustee has the obligation of putting forth his or her best efforts to handle the necessary tasks appropriately. When parties are deciding who to appoint as executor or trustee, it is often wise to consider whether the personalities of the candidates and the heirs and beneficiaries could clash and potentially lead to problems. Though the executor or trustee has the responsibility to act in a forthright manner no matter the personal interest, it can be more difficult when everyone involved does not get along.

Unfortunately, some individuals may take advantage of this position and cause serious issues for estates in Georgia and elsewhere. If an executor or trustee attempts to misappropriate funds, shut our heirs or beneficiaries, or delays probate or trust administration unnecessarily, a breach of fiduciary duty may have occurred. If so, the negatively affected parties may have reason to move forward with holding the fiduciary responsible for damages that result.