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How To Handle Dissolution Of Property And Breach Of Fiduciary Duty

By Henry F. Lewis on March 26, 2018

couple signing documentsWhen property or funds are placed in the hands of a third party, that party has a duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiary. The role is one of a fiduciary, and the greatest fiduciary duty is honest and fair dealing. Breach of fiduciary dealing is actionable conduct for which the beneficiary is entitled to damages. One of the most common causes of action is for dissolution of property and breach of fiduciary duty and includes a scenario where a trustee or other fiduciary has disposed of property intended to benefit another. The attorneys at Gardner & Lewis, LLP, in Oakland, CA, have experience holding fiduciaries responsible for waste, dissolution of property, misappropriation of funds, and other egregious violations of the trust placed in a fiduciary.

What Is A Fiduciary?

Any time a circumstance calls for the need to have an uninterested party oversee property or money, that person acts as a fiduciary. The most common form of fiduciary relationship is the one between a trustee and a beneficiary. A person acting as a fiduciary is obligated to take actions that are in the best interests of the beneficiary, and this includes the obligation to maintain and preserve all funds and property placed in a trust or other legal structure. When interests of the beneficiary are replaced by the interest of the fiduciary, a breach of fiduciary duty is said to have occurred. In these instances, the beneficiary has the legal right to seek remuneration from the fiduciary in the form of the return of property or payment for what has been lost.

How To Recover From Dissolution Of Property And Breach Of Fiduciary Duty

Disposal of property, whether real estate or any other property placed in trust, is a serious matter. In many instances, the property lost cannot be recovered and the beneficiary must look for other ways to be made whole. Things a beneficiary should look for and undertake when property is disposed of without authorization may include:

  • Whether the disposition was made for the benefit of the fiduciary, or for the beneficiary.
  • Whether the third party receiving the property is in collusion with the fiduciary, or is an innocent third party.
  • The value of the property lost.
  • The ability to recover the property.
  • The unique nature of the property and how that affects the value of the property.
  • Any loss in earnings from interest as a result of the loss of property.

It is important to establish exactly what was lost, and how the fiduciary may have benefited from the loss. If possible, the beneficiary can demand the return of the specific property dissolved, but in some instances that is not possible. When the exact item disposed of or is no longer available for recovery, the beneficiary can look to the fiduciary for repayment of the financial value lost. Computation of damages may require the use of an expert who deals with the type of property lost and can include the need to itemize several financial components. Partnering with a legal professional who has an understanding of the specific market for the property helps maximize your recovery.

Who To Call For Help With Dissolution of Property And Breach of Fiduciary Duty

If you have questions about what to do when fiduciary breaches their duties or dissolves property placed in their trust, we can give you answers. Please contact our office online, or call us today at 510-451-4822.

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The needs of your family are always at the forefront of our legal services. Whether through litigation or mediation, we believe that reaching a fair, efficient solution with minimal negative impact to your family is of the utmost importance. Henry F. Lewis

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Oakland Office

1939 Harrison St
Ste 210
Oakland, CA 94612

More Info Directions (510) 451-4822