Utilizing one or more trusts can be an effective way to plan for the distribution of an estate. Through a trust, an individual in Tennessee can set terms on the release of assets, thereby giving them control over their estate even long after they gone. These trusts are managed by trustees who are either named in estate planning documents or appointed by a court. These individuals carry a heavy responsibility because they act as fiduciaries, meaning that they must act in a way that furthers the best interests of the trust and its named beneficiaries.
A fiduciary may have many responsibilities. He or she may be charged with distributing assets in accordance with the terms of a trust, but he or she may also be responsible for investing trust funds and accounting for all assets in a trust. Failing to adhere to any of these duties can result in a breach of a trustee’s fiduciary duties, which could justify legal action.
There are many acts that may qualify as a breach of fiduciary duty. The most obvious is embezzlement of trust funds or improper distribution of those assets, but sometimes trustees show favoritism toward one of multiple named beneficiaries. Also, trustees sometimes improperly comingle their personal funds with trust assets, thereby making it difficult to distinguish between the two. This can lead to lost trust assets.
Legal action can be taken by beneficiaries when a trustee breaches his or her fiduciary duty. Time is often of the essence, though, as sometimes trust assets are truly lost depending on how they are disposed of by the trustee. Professionals who are skilled in probate litigation know how to handle such matters, so it is often advisable to consult with one of them before proceeding with any type of legal claim.