For families in Woodland Hills, having one assume control of a parent or loved one’s affairs could potentially alienate the other members. If such tension exists, one may want to ensure that all of his or her dealings with the estate be transparent and up-front, thus avoiding the potential for claims of mismanagement coming from his or her siblings and/or loved ones. Should one open the door for speculation that he or she may not be performing above board on all of his or her duties as either a trustee or estate executor, he or she had better be prepared for the onslaught of breach of fiduciary duty claims that are sure to run through it.
Such is the scenario facing a New Jersey man whose sister has sued him over the management of his mom’s and his aunt’s money prior to and following their deaths. The sister’s claims include accusations that he compelled his mother to set up a sizable investment account with him as the sole beneficiary. She also alleges that her brother directed money from their mothers financial accounts to his own and those of his law firm. Ultimately, he was cleared of the more scathing charges of conspiracy and conversion. The judge did, however, find him liable for fraud, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Most may view a tense situation such as their having management over their parents’ estate without their siblings’ approval as a chance to prove that the confidence placed in them was not unfounded. However, if one is accused of wrongdoing, he or she may be forced to defend him or herself. An estate planning attorney may be able to help with that.
Source: New Jersey Law Journal “Cleared in Estate Case, Lawyer’s Wife Seeking Sanctions” Toutant, Charles, Nov. 06, 2015