Managing conflict among various parties, all of whom have different interests, isn’t an easy task. I learned that lesson recently while trying to plan a family vacation. My son announced that he doesn’t like the beach and prefers mountain terrain with hiking trials. My daughter wanted to be able to swim in a natural body of water. My husband didn’t want to be stuck doing a lot of driving. I barely had time to think about what might be best for me (a relaxing spa getaway). As of today, we’re still involved in intense family negotiations. I could always just throw up my hands and outsource the decision to a travel agent. But, at least I know that whatever the outcome, no one will sue me over it.
Not so for fiduciaries who also must juggle conflicts while making weighty decisions that affect different parties to a trust and, perhaps, farm out decisions to those with more expertise. Fiduciaries have legal responsibilities to beneficiaries of a trust, as well as to the trust settlor, and failure to assume those duties can result in a lawsuit. The articles in our Fiduciary Professions Committee Report discuss some of the challenges fiduciaries face. In “Ethical Considerations in Thorny Trusteeships,” p. 52, Kim Kamin discusses the need to be vigilant in protecting the interests of beneficiaries and the inherent structural conflicts that trustees need to navigate. “Allocating Fiduciary Responsibility,” p. 36, by R. Hugh Magill, lays out when it makes sense to delegate trustee responsibility and the best ways to do so. In “Trends and Developments in Fiduciary Law,” p. 57, Dana G. Fitzsimons Jr., Mary Elizabeth Anderson and Meghan Gehr Hubbard provide us with a round up of court cases affecting fiduciaries. And, Jena L. Levin, in “Trust Administration in the Digital Age,” p. 43, describes the obstacles fiduciaries face in getting access to digital assets.
We also have a new co-chair for our Estate Planning & Taxation Committee. N. Todd Angkatavanich, a member of that committee, will now also act as one of our four co-chairs. We welcome him to his new position.