Trustee Misconduct

You never plan for trustee misconduct; the person you have picked to act as trustee is, naturally, someone you trust. Sometimes, though, that person will have ulterior motives. The most common forms of misconduct include:

The trustee is in a superior position to the beneficiaries, and the law treats the trustee as a fiduciary. A fiduciary is someone with “discretionary power” over the interests of other people; this means there is incentive and opportunity to abuse the trustee position.

Trustee Duties Imposed by Florida Law

In general, the trustee is responsible for three types of activity:

In carrying out these duties, trustees are held to a higher standard of conduct than people who conduct “arms length” business transactions. Their obligation is to serve the interests of the beneficiaries above their own interests and, when there are multiple beneficiaries, to be impartial rather than favoring one over the other.

The Florida statutes impose specific duties on trustees, including:

Duty to Invest Trust Assets

Florida law specifically calls on trustees to manage the trust as a “prudent person” would, taking account of all aspects of the trust, while exercising “reasonable” caution, skill and care. In cases where the trustee possesses special expertise or skills, the trustee must employ those skills in service of the trust.

What Constitutes Misconduct

While a trustees misconduct is limited only by his or her imagination some of the more common transgressions include:


Florida law offers a broad range of remedies for trustee misconduct. Among the most common are:

In addition to these specific remedies, the court has the discretion to provide any other relief that is appropriate under the circumstances.

Trustee’s Liability for Damages

By Florida statute, any trustee who breaches the trust is liable for damages consisting of the larger of the following:

The amount needed to restore the value of the trust and/or distributions is often a complicated calculation.

Get Help

Trustee misconduct cases in which the trustee denies any misconduct are frequently complicated. They can also drag on and on, eating up assets, time and energy. If you have an interest in a trust and are considering charging the trustee with misconduct, we can help you determine:

Because the trustee usually has very broad discretion over the assets, proving a breach of trust requires establishing that the trustee acted in a way that a “prudent investor” would not have.  This can often require considerable evidence and testimony including from experts and financial analysis.

Call the law firm of Todd A. Zuckerbrod, P.A. for a free consultation.  The firm has a solid history of handling trustee misconduct cases effectively and efficiently.