The Accountant/Attorney Liability Reporter: June 2006
Inside this Issue
Trustees Who Breached Their Fiduciary Duties to a Charitable Trust were Removed from Office by the Court
The Appeals Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts affirmed an order of a Probate and Family Court judge, holding that it was not error for the judge to remove two trustees of a charitable trust from offi ce, and name a successor trustee. Two trustees of the Lotta M. Crabtree charitable trusts (a third trustee had died on July 5, 2000) were charged with breaching their fiduciary duties, and committing a fraud upon the court, because they filed accounts that failed to disclose the manner of payments of trustees’ fees. The Appeals Court found that while some of the breaches were relatively minor, two of the breaches justified removal of the trustees.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Addresses the Appropriate Standard of Care for Professionals
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (“SJC”) recently reinforced the law in Massachusetts governing the standard of care for professionals. In Palandjian v. Foster, 446 Mass. 100 (2006), the SJC re-established that the appropriate standard of care in cases involving professionals is what a member of the profession generally would do under similar circumstances, and not what a particular “expert” would do under similar circumstances.
In Probate Actions Judges Enjoy Broad Discretion in Awarding Attorney’s Fees and Costs
The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed a Massachusetts Probate and Family Court judge’s decision to award attorney’s fees and costs to a defendant arising from her defense of a complaint brought by the plaintiff for modification of monthly child support payments.
Chapter 93A and Attorney Malpractice: More Than Mere Negligence
A recent Superior Court decision affirmed the proposition that where a plaintiff claims legal malpractice against a defendant attorney, in order to recover under Massachusetts General Laws. Chapter 93A, the plaintiff must prove more than mere negligence. To prevail in a Chapter 93A claim, the plaintiff must prove aggravated conduct by the attorney, such as conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. Indeed, if such aggravated conduct is present, recovery under Chapter 93A is permissible even if the underlying claim for legal malpractice fails. See Mary Lingis as the Executrix of the Estate of Edward J. Lingis v. Burton A. Waisbren, Jr. (20 Mass. L. Rep. 439; 2006 Mass. Super. LEXIS 58 (January 25, 2006).
Estate Planning Reform and Client Inertia: Is the GRAT One Answer?
“Why should I consider any estate or gift planning? The estate tax goes away in 2010, doesn’t it?” How many times have we heard a client say this in response to our efforts to get him or her to focus on the magnitude of estate taxes their families will likely face and the steps they might take today to lower that tax. The uncertainty we face today in the estate planning area is staggering.
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