Trustees have legal duties. If you are a trust beneficiary and a trustee has violated their duties in a way that has caused you harm, you may be able to sue the trustee. However, before you take legal action, it’s important to learn the possible outcomes of litigation and to contact an experienced New Orleans estate litigation lawyer to discuss your rights and potential remedies.
Reasons to Sue a Trustee
Trustees must act in accordance with the terms of the trust and Louisiana law while exercising a fiduciary duty toward the trust beneficiaries. A trustee’s duties include a duty of loyalty. The duty of loyalty is central to the trust and requires the trustee to:
- Act for the benefit of the beneficiaries within the terms set forth in the trust
- Not self-deal or act for their own personal gain
- Maintain confidentiality on matters that are not public record
- Preserve trust property
- Act as a prudent investor
- Keep clear and accurate accounts
Additionally, trustees have a duty of impartiality. The trustee must act in a way that is fair and reasonable for all beneficiaries and may not favor one beneficiary above another.
Potential Legal Outcomes If a Beneficiary Sues a Trustee
If a trustee violates their duties, a beneficiary may seek relief in a Louisiana court. Generally, a beneficiary may ask the court:
To Compel the Trustee to Perform Their Duties
You may ask the court to require the trustee to perform their duties in accordance with the trust document and Louisiana law. For example, you may ask the court to compel the trustee to:
- Provide you with information about the trust
- Provide you with an accounting of the trust property
If the trustee fails to take these actions, your lawsuit may ask that the trustee be removed from the trust, held in contempt in court, and pay any monetary damages that arose from their failure to act.
For Injunctive Relief to Prevent a Trustee From Breaching the Trust
The court has the power to prevent the trustee from taking an action that would breach the trust. As the beneficiary bringing the action, you do not need to meet a standard of irreparable harm to convince the court to issue an injunction.
To Remove the Trustee
A trustee may be removed in accordance with trust documents or by order of the court if the court finds sufficient cause. However, Louisiana law does not clearly define the term “sufficient cause.” Instead, the term has been defined by the courts in a way that is consistent with trust law. For example, a trustee may be removed if:
- The trustee has become disqualified from serving as trustee
- The trustee has become incapable of discharging their duties
- The trustee has mismanaged the trust
- The trustee has failed to perform any duty imposed by law or court order
You only need one of these reasons to seek the removal of a trustee.
For Financial Damages After a Breach of Trust
Louisiana trust law allows beneficiaries to seek monetary damages from a trustee for:
- A loss or depreciation in trust property that resulted from a breach of the trust
- A personal profit the trustee made from a breach of trust
- A profit that the trust would have made if not for a breach of trust
In some cases, your estate litigation lawyer may suggest that you ask the court for more than one of these legal outcomes.
Get Your Questions Answered Before Pursuing Trust and Estate Litigation
As a trust beneficiary, you have a lot at stake in the trust’s administration, but you don’t have any control over the trust. Even though this can be frustrating, you are not helpless. Our experienced New Orleans estate litigation lawyers can explore all of your legal options and provide you with the help you need to protect your rights. Contact us today to learn more.