I’m a trustee. What does it mean to have a ‘fiduciary duty?’

A fiduciary duty means that you have a legal duty to act solely in the interests of another party. If you have been named a trustee, you have to comply with the law and manage the trust in accordance with the wishes and desires of the person who created the trust. However, not all trustees do the right thing. Thus, California law requires that you meet and maintain that fiduciary duty in order to protect the trust and its beneficiaries.

Here’s What It Means

A fiduciary duty is a duty of care. This means, as a trustee, you have a strict duty of care or duty of loyalty to the trust. You cannot take advantage of your position; you cannot use your position as trustee to benefit yourself financially or in any other way. Instead, you must act in good faith for the benefit of the trust.

Sometimes It Is Hard to Know What to Do

On the surface, the fiduciary duty seems simple. However, there are situations where meeting the fiduciary duty to implement a trust can be challenging. You may not know the proper decisions to make. 

If, as a trustee, you’re worried that the decisions you’re making might violate your fiduciary duty, it is important to find out the answer before you take any action. If you make the wrong decision, there could be significant legal and financial consequences. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact an experienced trust and estate lawyer if you have any questions.