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Florida woman party to trust suit against Fifth Third Bank

The daughter of the former Chief Executive Officer of Proctor and Gamble is party to a suit against Fifth Third Bank for breach of fiduciary duty. The Naples woman joins a brother in another state in a suit alleging that Fifth Third, as trustee of their mother's trust, improperly gave money to a third brother.

According to a complaint filed in December of 2010, the plaintiffs allege that Fifth Third made unauthorized distributions of over $1 million to the mother's Florida checking account, which the third brother withdrew. The bank's motion to dismiss the suit was denied, and the case is now scheduled for trial, as no settlement has been reached. The plaintiffs seek more than $1.2 million plus interest that was allegedly distributed from 2004 to 2006.

As many Floridians know, trusts are an important tool in estate planning. They are used to direct the control of certain property by putting it in the control of one party for the benefit of another. The general idea behind trusts is that the controlling party, or trustee, will ensure that the property is used for the benefit of the beneficiary as the creator of the trust intended. This is why the choice of trustee is a key component of setting up a trust. But no matter how experienced a trustee, mistakes can be made.

Trustees have a fiduciary duty to both the grantor of the trust and the beneficiaries. If the trustee breaches the duty, it can be held responsible for any "waste" of trust assets. It is important that beneficiaries of trusts understand that if they believe a trustee has violated its duty, that the beneficiary may enforce his or her rights in the courts.

Trusts are not only for the ultra-wealthy. There are many reasons a trust might be useful in the planning of a person's estate. It makes sense for people living in Florida to explore the trust option when making their estate plan.

Source: Business Courier, "Former P&G CEO's children sue Fifth Third," Jon Newberry, April 9, 2013

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