Trustee Duties in California: What is a Duty of Confidentiality?

Trustee duties in California are crucial legal obligations trustees must uphold in order to properly and fairly administer a trust for the benefit of a beneficiary. A trustee’s failure to fulfill such fiduciary obligations constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty. In the event a trustee breaches this duty, working with a premier trust litigation attorney in Orange County is essential to protecting your interests.

At Gokal Law Group, we have successfully assisted beneficiaries in enforcing their rights against trustees who breach this duty of confidentiality for years. Learn more about the duty of confidentiality in our blog. 

Trustee Duties in California: What is a Duty of Confidentiality?

The duty to maintain confidentiality is in place to protect beneficiaries. 

This duty requires trustees to keep affairs of the trust confidential (unless the trust instrument states otherwise or when trustees are required by law to disclose said information to “interested persons”). This duty prohibits trustees from disclosing: 

  • Trust terms 
  • The identities or interests of beneficiaries 
  • Personal information or affairs of beneficiaries 
  • Trust assets to someone who is not a beneficiary unless it is someone who needs this information to help with administering the trust

It is important to understand that if a beneficiary consents to a trustee sharing such information, then such disclosure is no longer a breach of fiduciary duty. 

When a trustee breaches this duty, beneficiaries can pursue California trust litigation. To do so, you must file a petition in probate court requesting that the court remedy the violation. However, you must also present evidence, such as documents or witness testimony, to prove this breach occurred; thus working with an attorney is essential to presenting your best case.

If a court finds that a trustee has violated this fiduciary duty, it can result in several different outcomes. In these situations, the court has the power to: 

  • Compel a trustee to perform his or her duties
  • Order a trustee to stop breaching his or her duties
  • Force a trustee to rectify the breach
  • Order a trustee to account
  • Suspend a trustee
  • Remove and replace a trustee
  • Reduce or deny a trustee’s compensation
  • Void a trustee’s act and recover lost property or funds

“This breach of confidentiality can do irreparable damage to the trustee and beneficiary relationship because it undermines the trust that is so important for that dynamic. In severe cases, we have seen trustees violate their duty of confidentiality to enable external parties to take advantage of circumstances specific to the trust and beneficiaries. In these cases, it is essential to work with an attorney.”Alison Gokal, a partner and California trust litigation lawyer at Gokal Law Group with decades of experience in Orange County probate courts.

Premier California Trust Litigation Lawyers

If a trustee fails to maintain confidentiality, this is a severe breach of trustee duties in California that jeopardizes the interests of beneficiaries and the trust. Acting quickly is essential to protect your inheritance and the integrity of the trust. Fortunately, a premier trust litigation attorney can rectify this transgression.

Visit our Contact Us page and fill out a form to schedule a case evaluation to ensure the trustee performs his or her duties, including maintaining confidentiality. Trust us to protect your interests. 

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