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Trustee: Personal Liability

In breach of trust and/or breach of fiduciary suits, whether a trustee is personally liable often comes up. Section 456.10-1010, RSMo provides some points of clarification on the matter: (1) Unless provided otherwise in a contract, a trustee is not personally liable on a contract if the trustee discloses the trustee/fiduciary capacity in the contract. […]

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Trustee Duty to Report and Inform

As part of a trustee’s fiduciary duties, there is an important obligation to keep beneficiaries ” “reasonably informed about the administration of the trust and of material facts necessary for them to protect their interests.” § 456.8-813, RSMo. This is flexible language and greatly depends on the facts of a particular section. However, the official […]

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Trusts: Duty of Loyalty

A trustee has a fiduciary duty of loyalty to act in the best interests of the trust’s beneficiaries. While the Settlor (i.e., trust-maker) is alive and has capacity to revoke the trust, the duties of the trustee are owed exclusively to the Settlor. Section 456.6-603, RSMo. There is typically a shift in these duties when […]

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Trust Law versus Corporate Law, Controlling Duties

When a trust owns corporate shares, do corporate fiduciary obligations or trustee obligations prevail? The answer is that generally a trustee’s obligations take priority. Upon incorporation of trust assets, the corporation becomes the alter ego of the trustees and the trustee’s acts are determined in the light of the trust. Weldon Revocable Trust v. Weldon, 231 S.W.3d 158, 171 […]

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Trusts: Beneficiary, Qualified Beneficiary, Interested Person

In trust litigation, particularly breach of trust litigation, your legal relation to the trust is extremely important in determining what claims you can make. Missouri trust law distinguishes between a “qualified beneficiary,” “beneficiary” and “interested person.” By way of example, a qualified beneficiary is typically either someone who is eligible to receive mandatory or discretionary […]

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Special Fiduciary, Trust Litigation, Breach of Trust

In breach of trust litigation, the plaintiff can request a variety of remedies against the trustee. The remedies include, among other things, damages, removal and/or suspension. In more contentious situations, a probate court does have the authority to appoint a “special fiduciary” to administer the trust, in whole or in part, while the suit is […]

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Voidable Transactions, Trustee Conflicts of Interests, Duty of Loyalty

A trustee owes a fiduciary duty to a beneficiary. Therefore, a trustee is generally not permitted to enter into any transaction that is a conflict between the trustee’s personal interests and fiduciary responsibilities, unless (1) the transaction was authorized by the trust, (2) approved by the Court, (3) consented to or ratified by the beneficiaries, […]

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Trust Litigation: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of Trust

Trustees are fiduciaries who must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. To win on a claim of breach of fiduciary duty or trust, a plaintiff needs to prove that there is a (1) fiduciary duty, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation and (4) harm/damages. Matter of Wilma G. James Trust, 487 […]

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Successor Trustee Authority, Release of Liability

The general rule in Missouri is that successor trustees, unless the terms of the trust document say otherwise, possess all of the duties and authority of the initial trustee and/or any predecessor trustee. Therefore, a successor trustee usually possesses all of the “specific powers” of a trustee articulated in Section 456.8-816, RSMo. One of the […]

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Corporate Derivative Shareholder Claims, Beneficiary Trust Claims

With corporations, the directors and officers manage the corporation for the benefit of the shareholders. With trusts, the trustees manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. When a corporate officer/director commits a wrong against the corporation, or causes another injury to the corporation, a shareholder can bring a derivative on behalf of the […]

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