Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Attorneys Real Estate Group

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“It is likely that you already have a fiduciary duty to someone. Maybe you have fiduciary duties to many people. And it is also likely that you must understand the scope and risks associated with your fiduciary obligations.”

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Breach of Fiduciary Duty

As the most important duty acknowledged by law, a Breach of Fiduciary Duty involves trust and goodwill toward a person or an entity. In most cases, it is applicable without your explicit consent. Dedication and diligence are required to prevent any violation from exposing the perpetrator to personal risk.

No conflict of interest needs full disclosure if they provide a permit and there is a full. According to one great jurist, fiduciary duties do not allow a scintilla of disloyalty. They require complete honesty on the part of the fiduciary and full disclosure of any relevant information.

It is important to know the criteria of fiduciary duty and how it affects your exposure to liability in such cases.

  • Before one marries,
  • Becomes a director of a business,
  • Makes partnership,
  • A parent,
  • Executes a will,
  • Serves as a trustee of a trust, employee of a company, contractor of a company,
  • Lawyer of a client,
  • Real estate broker,
  • Therapist, etc.

Since all those relationships may create a fiduciary duty on your part, you should have a comprehensive understanding of them and how they affect your liability.



An individual owes a fiduciary duty to another person. Being obligated means having a set of obligations owed to another person. As a matter of principle, a fiduciary (the one with the duty) owes the beneficiary (the one to whom the duty belongs) the highest degree of care and devotion possible. The fiduciary has to be acting in the beneficiary’s best interest.

They cannot intentionally harm the beneficiary and must avoid harming the beneficiary’s interests negligently. As a result, the fiduciary must avoid conflict with the duty to the beneficiary regarding their interests.

As part of its duties, a fiduciary must disclose any potential conflicts of interest to a beneficiary if they arise. In some cases, this involves proactive investigations to determine what is in the beneficiary’s best interests.


Lawyers owe clients a fiduciary duty.

Some examples will be more helpful. To act in the client’s best interest, the lawyer must disclose all economic or other interests that may conflict with the client’s interests.

The lawyer has to take all actions and give all advice in favor of the client. As well as protect the client’s interests with professional skill and energy. The lawyer must immediately disclose any conflicts of interest and take steps to resolve them. Such conflicts immediately, regardless of the personal cost to him.

Consequently, the lawyer must determine if a conflict of interest exists affirmatively. Attorneys in California must investigate if they represent any clients who conflict with one another or may have an economic interest that may not benefit the clients.

To ensure a new client is not adverse to the interests of that previous client, law firms must conduct a “conflict search” on each client they have ever represented.

It is implicit in this concept that one cannot be in a potential conflict of interest and act as a fiduciary. The possibility of being placed in a future conflict requires full disclosure and withdrawal unless both clients waive the potential conflict after full disclosure.


Fiduciary Duties

Parents have a fiduciary duty towards their children as a legal matter. Failure to act in the child’s best interest can result in civil and criminal liability. Because the child is a minor, they cannot waive such fiduciary duty. Any guardian of the child must act in the child’s best interest.

A spouse’s fiduciary duties are also important, as they need the other spouse to act in the interests of the other in all economic and other dealings and disclose all financial information.

It is, therefore, necessary for spouses to disclose information and warn of possible conflicts in contracts between them in a way that rarely occurs in contracts. If these disclosures do not occur, the contract may be void. The fiduciary duty obligations extend even to fiancées who are planning to marry.


Among these duties are the following:

  • Law firm-client relationship
  • Director of the corporation to shareholders.
  • Corporate officers report to the owners of the company.
  • Broker to the client (stock or real estate brokers are also subject to this responsibility.)
  • Employer-employee
  • Executors of wills for beneficiaries.
  • Trustees are trustees of trusts to beneficiaries.
  • The parents to the children. Spouses to their spouses.
  • A partner for all other partners.
  • The financial adviser for clients.
  • Brokers to their clients.
  • Accounting that is client-facing
  • Guardianship beneficiary to the guardian
  • Beneficiary (conservatee) of conservatorship

Before acting, you must know if your relationship with another person or entity is fiduciary. To determine if a fiduciary duty applies, you should seek legal advice.

Although some relationships may be close, fiduciary duties do not apply to them. Friends don’t have such a duty to each other, shareholders don’t have it to other shareholders, advertising executives don’t have a duty to their clients, and neither do negotiation parties. Most salespeople and employers have no fiduciary duty to their customers. However, some jurisdictions have imposed duties on employers to keep a workplace safe and free from harassment.


Fiduciary definition in real estate

Fiduciary duties are legal obligations where one party must act in the best interest of another. Fiduciary duty is the legal obligation that requires the obligated party to act in the best interests of another party. 

A breach of the fiduciary duty can have serious consequences for both parties. To protect one’s finances and assets, it is important to understand how a violation of fiduciary duties can happen and what a fiduciary definition real estate is.

In the case of real property, a real estate agent acting as an “agent” owes their client a duty. Real estate professionals are not always referred to as “agents” but often act as agents in real estate transactions.


Breach of Fiduciary Duty California

Fiduciaries include executors, administrators of probate, and trustees. They are, therefore, legally bound to act with good faith and only in the interest of beneficiaries. When the person appointed to oversee trusts or probate estates does not exercise due diligence when performing such duties, it is considered a breach of fiduciary obligation. 

Talk to us if you suspect your fiduciary has breached their legal obligations. Our lawyers are experienced in probate litigation and can evaluate your case.


Contrasting Other Types of Duties

For example, the law imposes a “duty of due care” when driving an automobile to avoid injuring another person. In addition to acting to mitigate damages, one must act reasonably if they are planning to sue for breach of contract. While the law imposes dozens of other duties, none are as high as the fiduciary duty. Which is the highest obligation the law can impose on a person.


Statute Of Limitations and Personal Liability

It is inherent in the concept of fiduciary duty that if one breaches it, they are personally liable. Thus, you are personally liable if you are a trustee or real estate broker. Indeed, corporations and other limited liability entities can sometimes limit a person’s liability, and insurance policies that cover negligent breaches of fiduciary duties are often available. But in most cases, the law will impose liability directly on the fiduciary who breaches that duty, and insurance normally won’t cover the liability if the breach was willful.

In other words, directors, executors, trustees, and so on undertake a personal obligation that can result in far-reaching consequences if they fail to do so. Additionally, fiduciaries typically have very long statute limitations. The statute of limitations generally runs if the beneficiary is a minor until they reach the legal age to file a lawsuit. Fiduciaries may be able to delay the statute of limitations until the beneficiary knows or can know the facts giving rise to the liability.

Twenty years after the theft and five years after she died, it was discovered that a trustee had breached her duty to her beneficiaries. In 1963, this office filed an action against her trustee for breach of duty. It includes against co-trustees, in this case, the bank, since they had been hidden.

A court granted a judgment on breach of fiduciary duty almost fifty years after the wrongful act occurred. It was too late to save the fiduciary by the time of the verdict. As a result, perhaps unknowingly, her spouse received some of the proceeds of her wrongdoing.

The breach of fiduciary duty statute of limitations California is four years unless fraud is the main complaint (as it was in this case), at which point the limit is reduced to three years.


Duties of Joint Fiduciaries

Many fiduciaries must fully understand how the California breach of fiduciary duty works if they are co-fiduciaries (joint trustees, joint executors, directors, etc.). It means that each fiduciary is individually accountable for the real damage caused to the beneficiary if both fiduciaries breach their duties, harming the beneficiary. A beneficiary need not collect equal payments from both fiduciaries when one fiduciary disappears or becomes insolvent. However, both fiduciaries may claim contributions from one another. The remaining fiduciary often has to bear the brunt of payments when a fiduciary disappears or becomes insolvent.

A fiduciary’s duty of inquiry also means you must make reasonable inquiries to determine if another breach of fiduciary duty examples has breached their duty and take proactive measures to protect the beneficiary if you know or should know this. Even if the other fiduciary acted intentionally wrongfully, you might still be liable, at least partly, for the actions of your negligence that caused the beneficiary harm. You may be liable if a co-fiduciary signs certain checks without audit or oversight, and the co-fiduciary steals some money and disappears.

A recent case demonstrated that the Boards of Directors of corporations could be liable for failing to exercise a reasonable oversight role when the corporation’s officers breach their fiduciary duty.

A primary lesson to remember is that sharing a fiduciary duty does not relieve you from protecting the beneficiary. Rather, it may enlarge your duties in light of the need to oversee the other fiduciaries’ actions.



As fiduciaries, one of the most important things they can do is to protect their beneficiaries. Understand that fiduciaries cannot escape their responsibilities with a waiver or an “excusal.” Fiduciaries must protect their beneficiaries, take their responsibilities seriously, and continuously monitor their obligations.

In writing, informing a beneficiary of a conflict of interest is mandatory. The beneficiary must either resign from any fiduciary position in which you are in a conflict of interest or get a written waiver from the beneficiary after full written disclosure. Informed consent and resignation are important steps.

Make sure someone else will assume your duties if you become ill or encounter other circumstances. This makes it impossible for you to continue to perform them immediately.

A court may have to remove you and appoint another person if no other people are apparent. There are usually alternative fiduciaries or a method to appoint one in documents that create fiduciary duties, such as corporate by-laws or Wills Trusts.

It is challenging to repeal lawful duties such as parent-child or spouse-spouse duties. It is not possible in some cases, such as with a child.



The most common cause of litigation against fiduciaries is “self-dealing,” in which the fiduciary acts in a way that benefits them at the beneficiary’s expense. An example is entering into contracts between the Trust or Company and the fiduciary that exceed market value. Also, it includes borrowing money from the trust or estate, failing to report errors that prevent the beneficiary from defending themself, etc.




As a result, we don’t need to remove the fiduciary from the trustee’s office. But repay the beneficiary and may even be liable for punitive damages. The best rule is to never engage in any transaction with the fiduciary where the decision to make the transaction did not occur WITHOUT your involvement.

A typical method frequently seen in corporations is for a director who intends to engage in a business transaction. The company must usually inform the board in writing that he will leave the boardroom. Also, to refrain from voting on the matter.

Self-dealing is specifically allowed by the corporation code if you follow certain steps. Other fiduciary obligations, such as when one is a Trustee of a trust, may take longer to overcome in such situations. Legal advice is vital before any such transaction occurs, and the fiduciary and the beneficiary should consult a separate attorney for advice.


Get Legal Help for Your Fiduciary Dispute

It is important to note that when entering a fiduciary relationship, you trust that your fiduciary will act in your best interests. Because of this, fiduciaries have high financial, legal, and ethical standards.

Betraying this trust can result in financial harm. Hire a lawyer experienced in breach of fiduciary law who will serve as your advocate.

Attorney Real Estate group helps you to fight for the compensation you deserve. Backed by several years of legal experience, our Sacramento, California, business litigation attorney is always ready to tackle even the most complex cases.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...

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