Breach of Fiduciary Duty – Accounts

Attorney Michael Young handled an estate in Collin County that involved disputed accounts and a power of attorney. An elderly man had a will that left his assets equally to his four children. However, he moved in with one of his children, a son, and gave him power of attorney.

The son used the power of attorney to take funds from various accounts and place them in a single account, in which he putatively had survivorship rights. Through this maneuver, he was attempting to circumvent his father’s wishes and to exclude his sisters. Despite promising his sisters that he would share the account in equal shares, which he conceded was his father’s wishes, he ultimately reneged.

The sisters then hired attorney Young. Attorney Young conducted discovery and obtained the account designation documents from the financial institution. He discovered that the documents did not properly designate the son with survivorship benefits according to Texas law. Attorney Young filed a motion for summary judgment with the Collin County probate court noting that the absence of the required paperwork under Texas law demonstrated as a matter of law that the account belongs to the estate. It also demonstrates as a matter of law that the son violated his fiduciary duty to his father and to his sisters, Plaintiffs, by exercising wrongful and exclusive control of an account that belonged to the other beneficiaries. Shortly thereafter, the case was resolved favorably for the sisters who had hired attorney Young.