Whether one is appointed Trustee over a Trust or a Personal Representative ("PR") over an Estate, that individual holds great power. What some people forget quite often, sometimes to their own detriment, are the corresponding responsibilities that accompany that power. When the Trustee/PR neglects those responsibilities, the Court may order the fees already paid to the Trustee/PR to be disgorged, or suurendered. Then all the work performed is for naught.
When can fees be disgorged? Most often times when the Trustee/PR over-reaches in her authority, also known as breaching her fiduciary duties, to the detriment of the Trust/Estate and to its beneficiaries. Another common scenario occurs when the Trustee/PR fails to perform annual accountings and communicate with beneficiaries. The recipients of a loved one's money like to be kept in the loop. Failure to do so gives them a great reason to hire an attorney and appeal to a Court. Additionally, failing to properly account for money and property in your possession for the benefit of beneficiaries also makes them nervous, and encourages them to take action that will greatly increase your frustration down the road.
So remember, if you are nominated or appointed as Trustee/PR, please do the following so you are adequately paid for your services and the likelihood of someone objecting to your fees remains low:
1. Perform your duties within the prescribed boundaries;
2. communicate with the beneficiaries, and then communicate some more; and finally,
3. submit the required accountings!
If you need any assistance in probate or estate matters, please contact Mara & Mara, P.A. We serve Volusia county, Flagler county, Daytona Beach, Palm Coast, and the DeLand areas.