What is fiduciary litigation?
A fiduciary is an individual or corporation in whom another (also known as the beneficiary) places their trust and confidence to act upon their best interests. The high level of trust legally mandated by a fiduciary relationship can be found across a wide range of legal actions, including shareholder claims, trusts and estates, guardianship proceedings, and many more.
A fiduciary has a legal obligation to the beneficiary to act entirely on their behalf and best interests. The fiduciary relationship is considered to be the highest standard of care imposed by law. Since the fiduciary has a legal responsibility to the beneficiary, conflicts of interest must be watched for and avoided. In the event this duty is breached, it will likely lead to breach of fiduciary litigation.
Fiduciary and beneficiary relationships can include attorney and client, broker and principal, trustee and beneficiary, and executors of an estate and the heirs, among others.
Breach of fiduciary duty
When a fiduciary takes actions that violate or are counterproductive to the interests of the beneficiary and/or acts in a manner that benefits his or her own interests or the interests of a third party, rather than the beneficiary, a breach of fiduciary duty has occurred.
The following elements must be met in order to hold a fiduciary liable:
In the event of a breach, the beneficiary must prove a fiduciary duty exists or existed.
Next, the beneficiary must prove the fiduciary breached his or her duty. Each instance of a breach can vary depending upon the actions taken by the fiduciary, including a failure to disclose important information resulting in misinterpretations, negligence, or the unlawful use of funds.
A plaintiff must prove the breach of fiduciary duty was the cause of their harm. Causation must show that any damages incurred by the beneficiary were a direct result of the breach of fiduciary duty.
The beneficiary must show the breach of duty resulted in damages. Without actual damages – such as lost profits or lost clientele – there is typically no basis for a breach of fiduciary duty case.
Fiduciary Litigation Lawyers of The Woodlands
A fiduciary relationship is designed to ensure the best decisions are being made on behalf of the beneficiary. Breaching the duty can have serious consequences and legal implications. Because these relationships are complex, having the insight of an experienced fiduciary litigation attorney can be incredibly helpful. If you or someone you know is in need of legal assistance regarding a fiduciary relationship contact the lawyers at Seiler Mitby today.