Fiduciary Train Wrecks: Causation and Casualties

Date: Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Time: 11:45am - 1:15pm
Location: Delta Hotel-Marriot- 385 East 4th Street, South Sioux City, Nebraska 68776
Speaker: Thomas E. Simmons

11:45 a.m. Networking

12:00 p.m. Lunch

12:10 p.m. Business/Announcements

12:15 p.m. Presentation

1:15 p.m. Conclusion


Program Summary:   


Fiduciaries come in many forms. Attorneys, trustees, agents, guardians, financial advisors, real estate brokers, and so on. The primary fiduciary duties – the duty of care and the duty of loyalty – are common to all fiduciary relationships. For attorneys, the scope and particulars of their duties to clients (and third parties) are contained within their jurisdiction’s code of professional responsibility and legal malpractice jurisprudence. Ethical violations give rise to disciplinary sanctions while malpractice errors result in civil liability – and occasionally, one mistake will have consequences in both forums.


In this presentation, we will study fiduciary responsibilities – what’s expected, what’s demanded, and the consequences for failure – in several different contexts, utilizing case law to explore particular fact scenarios and how the courts deal with them. Fiduciary duties do vary according to context and role (i.e., the particular fiduciary hat a fiduciary is wearing) in important respects. But there’s more commonality than variation and the lessons from one fiduciary misstep can generally be applied to fiduciaries in other contexts. We’ll identify where fiduciaries go astray, the consequences of their blunders, and how they might have been avoided.


About the Speaker: 


A tenured professor at the University of South Dakota, Tom concentrates on trusts, estate administration, and the estate tax. Prior to joining the legal academy, he was a partner with the law firm of Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson & Ashmore, LLP and clerked for the Honorable Andrew Bogue, senior federal district court judge. He has taught at every educational level, from pre-K (as a volunteer at a Head Start program), elementary (fourth grade), secondary (junior high school in Miki-shi, Japan), and undergraduate (in a paralegal program) to graduate (i.e., law school). Tom is an active member of trust and elder law reform.


He serves on the South Dakota State Bar's Ethics Committee, Elder Law Committee (founder/past chair), Indian Law Committee, and Lawyer's Committee on Diversity of Inclusion. He is a member of the South Dakota Bar Association's Section of Real Property Probate and Trust (twice past chair). Tom created and managed the first qualifying "(d)(4)(C)" pooled trust for individuals with disabilities in South Dakota (the "PATI Trust"). Tom is a gubernatorial appointee to the Governor's Task Force on Trust Administration Review and Reform and serves as a member and whip of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.  He regularly serves as a consultant and expert in litigation involving the federal estate tax, legal malpractice, and fiduciary administration.  But for a few years in Canada and Nebraska (and one in Japan), he is a lifelong South Dakotan.


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