Category Archives: Fiduciary Duties

Tips For Successful Succession Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  ― Abraham Lincoln Your company is built to last. But when you are ready to step back and let go of the reins, will the next generation preserve your legacy? Many times my clients owning a closely-held company or family-owned business have shared with me their hope to ensure a successful transition at their company to future leaders. And as a litigator, too often I’ve seen shaky succession plans fall apart, forcing my clients to dismiss potential future leaders and reinsert …


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Trustees Should Avoid Bitcoin

As bitcoin becomes increasingly popular, some are starting to ask: should trustees of trusts invest a portion of trust assets in bitcoin? There are very strong reasons why they should not. As I explain below, investing in bitcoin, in most circumstances, could put a trustee at risk of violating the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. First some background: for those unfamiliar with bitcoin, Wikipedia provides a helpful overview: Bitcoin is an online payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, who published his invention in 2008, and released it as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without …


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Waiting for Atticus Finch

Harper Lee Allegations Show the Importance of Proper Actions by an Agent Under a Power of Attorney The media and publishing world has been abuzz the past few weeks with news that Harper Lee – the author of the famed novel To Kill A Mockingbird – plans to publish her first novel in over 55 years. Described as a sequel, the new novel Go Set a Watchman is set to be released this coming summer. Recently, several media outlets have published reports from acquaintances of the 88-year old Ms. Lee implying that publication of the new novel is contrary to Ms. …


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Perfect Estate Plans (On Paper) Can Still Lead to Litigation

Having handled approximately 100 estate disputes, I’m frequently asked what people can do with their estate plans to try to prevent disputes from arising among their family members. Having a proper estate plan in place is unquestionably a key component to preventing a dispute among family members. But perhaps equally important is naming competent, honest people to the fiduciary positions in an estate plan. Here’s what I mean.  The most well-written estate plan can’t prevent the following scenarios: a trustee who mismanages a trust, a trustee who refuses to inform and report to the beneficiaries as required by law, or …


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