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What Happens When a Trustee is Accused of Stealing?

L. Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. The new office is located at 801 N. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 216, in downtown Orlando, Florida.

The second office is located at 331 West Central Avenue, Suite 244, in Winter Haven, Florida.

Bloodworth Law handles many types of trust litigation cases and represents both plaintiffs and defendants in trust litigation.

Trust Disputes: Who We Represent

In trust disputes, we represent trustees, grantors, beneficiaries, financial institutions, banks–any individual or entity involved in a Florida trust lawsuit.

Trustee is Accused of Stealing from a Trust

What generally happens when a trustee is accused of stealing from a trust. First, Florida law includes a trust code that outlines specific duties and actions that trustees are required to follow as fiduciaries.

A trustee is supposed to disclose all material facts about transactions and the management of a trust.  This information is supplied in an annual accounting. When done properly, an annual accounting can limit the time for interested persons to challenge the actions and transactions disclosed in the accounting to six months.

Trustee Accused of Stealing from a Trust

Second, if you are a trustee accused of stealing from a trust, talk with an experienced trust litigation attorney immediately. A Florida trust litigator will assist you in trust disputes that may include a settlement, negotiations, or, when necessary, lawsuits.

Allegations of Theft or Fraud

Third, if allegations of theft or fraud are being made against a trustee, an attorney will either challenge the trustee’s annual accounting or make a formal demand for an Annual Accounting if the trustee has not supplied one.

When necessary, forensic accountants may be hired to determine whether there were any misdeeds by the trustee.

Common Claims: Theft or Misappropriation in Property Transfers

Most of the time, claims of theft or misappropriation revolve around disagreements over property transfers, but there are many ways a trustee could potentially misappropriate funds from a trust. Here are some acts of theft by a trustee:

  • Pocketing, hiding, or excluding known assets from the trust to keep it for themselves or away from beneficiaries.
  • Investing trust assets in the trustee’s personal interests vs. the interests of the trust and the beneficiaries.
  • Trustees paying themselves an exorbitant trustee fee.
  • Purchasing an asset from the trust at a lower price than its value.
  • Distributing funds indiscriminately or not in accordance with the trust.
  • Taking out personal loans from the trust.
  • Taking assets and selling them and keeping the profits.
  • Attempting to hide, alter, or disguise transactions.

These illegal activities could result in charges of breach of fiduciary duty, civil theft, and fraud.

Florida law allows for the recovery of attorney’s fees for failure to properly account for trust assets.  

What Happens When a Trustee is Accused of Stealing?Again, I’m Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. If you believe that a trustee has committed theft, fraud, or has stolen assets from a trust, give me a call. Let’s talk about how Bloodworth Law can help you, your business, or your family.

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