When Does a Breach of Trust Occur?

Our Trust Litigation Attorneys located in Lynnfield and serving all of Eastern Massachusetts are responding to the following question: When does a breach of trust occur? 

For the purposes of this question, we are referring to the law of trusts, which encompasses irrevocable trusts, revocable trusts, real estate trusts, charitable trusts, special needs trusts, and other types of trusts.  

A breach of trust occurs when the Trustee of the trust fails to abide by any duty that the Trustee owes to the beneficiaries or to promote the charitable purpose of the trust.  Note that a Trustee of a trust takes on a different capacity which involves duties and responsibilities that are different from the Trustee's everyday personal life or own financial affairs.  Thus, the trust and trustee are treated separately from that person's own affairs (unless their are issues of personal liability that we will address in future blog posts). A Trustee owes a separate fiduciary duty to the trust and beneficiaries, or charitable purpose, and can violate that duty by intentionally or negligently failing to abide by or take actions that are forbidden under the terms of the trust. 

For example, if a trustee refuses to account for trust property and income that trustee may violate his/her fiduciary duties by failing to comply with the accounting provisions in the trust.  Another example is if a trustee fails to make property and income distributions to the beneficiaries when there is a trust provisions on that very subject. 

If you are a beneficiary of a trust and have questions as to whether a trustee has breached a trust, and if you have any legal or equitable remedy, please contact us at 781-463-6063.