Trustees Obligation to Inform Beneficiaries: Avoiding Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims

Reconciling Discrepancies Between Trust Document and State Law, Navigating State Statutes and UTC Provisions

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide estate planning counsel and advisers with a thorough and practical guide to navigating trustees’ duties to inform beneficiaries and report trust existence and performance. The panel will address the key obligations that advisers to fiduciaries need to grasp and meet to avoid liability and defend against beneficiary claims.


A critical obligation for trustees of irrevocable trusts is the duty to inform beneficiaries of the trust’s existence and activities. Trustees often find themselves facing beneficiary claims of breach of fiduciary duty for failure to comply with these responsibilities. And, compliance is frequently complicated by inconsistencies between the trust document and the applicable state law. Fiduciaries and their advisers can avoid liability by thoroughly understanding the key components of a trustee’s duty to inform.

While there is no uniform standard governing trustees’ duty to inform, virtually every state imposes a fiduciary duty on trustees to provide certain information to trust beneficiaries. Most states require trustees to provide regular trust accountings to some or all current beneficiaries. Additionally, states have long recognized the right of beneficiaries to receive information on request.

Many states’ trust statutes will not relieve the trustee of the duty to inform, except in very limited circumstances. Because of variances in the scope of the duty to inform among the states in defining the duty to inform, advisers to fiduciaries, especially non-professional trustees, should have a solid grasp of these fiduciary duties to avoid unexpected liability.

Listen as our panel of authoritative presenters provides estate planning and trust counsel with practical guidance for understanding and complying with trustees’ duties to provide information to beneficiaries, report trust existence and performance, and meet key obligations to avoid liability and defend against beneficiary claims.



  1. The Trustee's Duty to Inform and the Beneficiary's Right to Information
    1. At Common Law
    2. Under the Uniform Trust Code
  2. The Trustee's Duty to Account and Responding to Requests for Accountings
  3. Silent or Quiet Trusts
    1. Silencing a Noisy Trust
    2. Creating a Silent Trust from Scratch
  4. Avoiding Claims for Breach of the Fiduciary Duty to Inform


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What disclosures are trustees almost always required to make to beneficiaries?
  • What are the Uniform Trust Code (UTC) provisions for required disclosures?
  • What trust document provisions limiting a trustee’s duty to disclose and report will be honored under most state laws? Under the UTC?
  • When can a trustee utilize non-mandatory disclosures to further protect against breach of fiduciary duty claims for failure to report?


Nicole K. Mann
Nicole K. Mann

McDermott Will & Emery

Ms. Mann focuses her practice on all aspects of tax and estate planning, estate and trust administration and...  |  Read More

Jared R. Cloud
Jared R. Cloud

McDermott Will & Emery

Mr. Cloud counsels clients on estate, trust and family business disputes. He represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries...  |  Read More

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Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include program handouts. To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

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