One of the most fundamental duties of a fiduciary is the duty of loyalty. That is, every fiduciary must administer the estate or trust subject to his or her stewardship solely in the interests of the beneficiaries. If a fiduciary engages in self-dealing, that duty is breached. In Matter of Smith, the Surrogate’s Court, Albany County, recently addressed the liability attendant to fiduciary self-dealing . Ilene Cooper discusses the decision in our latest post.
Continue Reading Fiduciary Self-Dealing

My colleagues have written on the enforceability of in terrorem clauses, and the courts continue to confront challenges in reconciling the testator’s intent to impose an in terrorem condition with the rights of beneficiaries to challenge the conduct of their fiduciary. The New York County Surrogate’s Court’s recent decision in Matter of Merenstein provides further

In the recent decision of Matter of the Accounting of Tydings, the Bronx County Surrogate’s Court addressed the misconduct of the trustee of a lifetime trust, in view of an exoneration clause contained in the instrument. Ilene Cooper discusses the case in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Fiduciary Beware: Contested Accounting in the Face of Exoneration Clause Results in Liability for Inter Vivos Trustee

The American Rule provides that each party to a litigation generally remains responsible for his own legal expenses regardless of who prevails. In Matter of Lasdon, Surrogate Glen of New York County explained the few and narrow exceptions to that Rule, one of which pertains to cases of fiduciary misconduct. Jaclene D’Agostino discusses the decision in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Exception to the American Rule: Shifting Objectants’ Legal Fees to the Surcharged Fiduciary

Legal fees incurred by fiduciaries in connection wtih their stewardship are generally chargeable to a trust or estate as a whole. This week’s blog entry discusses a recent case in which non-objecting beneficiaries sought to allocate trustees’ litigation costs solely to the objecting parties’ interests.
Continue Reading Beneficiary Participation Irrelevant to Allocation of Trustees’ Litigation Costs