What is a Fiduciary Duty?
A fiduciary duty is a special responsibility owed to you when you engage the services of certain entities to represent your interests. For example, if you hire an attorney you are relying on their expertise in the law and trusting them not to use your ignorance of the law to their own advantage. In other words: certain entities whose services you engage owe you a duty to represent your best interests. Other such relationships could be doctor/patient, real estate agent/client, executors of a will and heirs, mortgage broker/principal and, under certain circumstances, one spouse to another with respect to community property.
Such an entity is expected, by law, to act in your best interest and if they fail to do so they may have breached a fiduciary duty owed to you. As an example, I represented clients who purchased a home using a real estate agent who made certain claims about a piece of real property and who also failed to ascertain the true nature of said property. When my clients later discovered the true facts about this property it diminished the value of it and required them to pay to have the problems remediated. In order to mitigate their damages, we sued their real-estate agent for breaching the fiduciary duty they owed in disclosing material information to the purchaser as required by California law.
It isn’t always clear who owes who a fiduciary duty and there may be exceptions or inclusions based upon specific circumstances, so I encourage you to contact my offices if you feel you have been the victim of someone who was supposed to represent your best interests.
West’s Ann.Cal.Civ.Code § 2079.24
33 Cal. Jur. 3d Family Law § 886