The main goal of estate planning is to allow Woodland Hills residents to share their assets with beneficiaries according to their own wishes. Yet that happening may depend largely on the competency and trustworthiness of whomever one chooses to be his or her personal representative. There are a number of things that a personal representative can do that may be prejudicial to an estate and can disqualify him or her from the role. A breach of fiduciary duty in this regard includes any actions (or inactions) that go against those rights and responsibilities conferred on the personal representative (provided they were done in bad faith).
Section 9601 of California’s Probate Code states that when a personal representative breaches his or her duties, he or she is liable for:
- Any loss to or depreciation of the estate’s overall value
- Any profits the personal representative may have made from his or her actions
- Any profits the estate would have accrued had the personal representative completed his or her assigned task
If and when a breach of fiduciary duty does occur, beneficiaries certainly may have just cause to petition that the personal representative be removed from the role. Yet does doing so allow him or her to skate liability for his or her actions? Of course not. The state will instead then look to fill the role with a successor personal representative. Whomever fills that role does not assume responsibility. Rather, Section 8525(a) of the Probate Code says that the liability against the previous personal representative remains in place as though his or her role was never vacated. It goes on to say that liability issues against him or her will be pursued up to the point that an acceptable settlement has been made.