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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 Protector: Powers, Duties, Limitations

An increasingly common technique used in trusts is to designate a trust protector. A trust protector is different than the settlor, trustee and beneficiary. Because the trust protector concept is relatively new, there has been uncertainty regarding the trust protector’s authority in trust administration, litigation and breach of trust suits. To address this uncertainty, Missouri […]

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Trustees, Personal Liability

Asset protection is a big reason individuals will sometimes create a trust. A lot of the focus in such situations is on making sure a beneficiary’s interest in a trust estate is outside the purview of creditors. To that end, trusts often utilize spendthrift provisions. A spendthrift provision is language in a trust that prevents […]

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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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Trust Termination, Trustee Final Accounting

Unless there are specific terms in a trust document providing otherwise, a trust terminates and ends generally when the “trustee gives a final accounting and conveys the trust property to the beneficiaries.” Shannon v. Johnson, 741 S.W.2d 791, 794 (Mo. Ct. App. 1987). A trust’s termination date is important for numerous reasons, not the least of […]

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Prudent Investor Rule, Asset Management, Fiduciary Litigation

A fiduciary (e.g., trustee, personal representative, etc.) has an obligation to invest and manage assets as a “prudent investor” would. When making investment and management decisions, the fiduciary should consider the purposes, terms, distribution requirements and other circumstances of the trust or fiduciary relationship. O’Riley v. US Bank, NA, 412 S.W.3d 400, 414 (Mo. Ct. App. […]

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Trustee Good Faith Discretion, Breach of Trust

A trustee has the duty to exercise the requisite care, skill and diligence of a person of ordinary prudence would exercise. Jarvis v. Boatmen’s National Bank of St. Louis, 478 S.W.2d 266, 273 (Mo. 1972). The specific actions necessary to accomplish this goal depends on the nature of the trust, particularly its assets and distribution schemes. […]

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Special Skills/Expertise of a Trustee

A trustee owes an array of fiduciary duties to trust beneficiaries. The nature and extent of these duties can potentially be enlarged if the trustee possesses special skills or expertise. Under Section 456.8-806, RSMo, “[a] trustee who has special skills or expertise, or is named trustee in reliance upon the trustee’s representation that the trustee […]

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Trust Opportunities, Trustee Breach of Loyalty

Corporate directors/officers and trustees are similar in that they are both fiduciaries and owe others (i.e., shareholders or beneficiaries, respectively) a duty of loyalty. As part of the duty of loyalty, the “corporate opportunity doctrine” forbids a corporate director from acquiring for his or her own benefit an opportunity that would have been valuable and […]

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