fiduciary relationships – one person has a duty to act with a high degree of care for the benefit of another(s) on matters within the scope of the relationship

fiduciary relationship:

1. A relationship wherein one person is under a duty to act for the benefit of another on matters within the scope of the relationship, which requires an unusually high degree of care.  Fiduciary relationships – such as trustee beneficiary, guardian-ward, principal-agent, & attorney-client – require an unusually high degree of care.  aka fiduciary relation; confidential relationship.  Fiduciary relationships usually arise in one of four situations:

1.) when one person places trust in the faithful integrity of another, who as a result gains superiority or influence over the first.
2.) when on person assumes control and responsibility over another.
3.) when one person has a duty to act for or give advice to another on matters falling within the scope of the relationship.
4.) when there is a specific relationship that has traditionally been recognized as involving fiduciary duties, as with a lawyer and a client or a stockbroker and customer. [1]

1. A relationship between two persons in which one is obligated to act with the utmost good faith, honesty, and loyalty on behalf to the other.  EXAMPLES: attorney and client; trustee and beneficiary; conservator and ward.  A fiduciary relationship is often loosely but inaccurately considered to be the equivalent of a confidential relationship. [2]

fiduciary relation – Often, but perhaps somewhat loosely, considered as the equivalent of confidential relation.

There is a technical distinction between a fiduciary relation and a confidential relation, the former being more correctly applicable to legal relationships between parties, such as guardian and ward, administrator and heirs, trustee and cestui que trust, principal and agent, etc., while the latter includes such relationships and also every other relationship wherein confidence is rightfully reposed and is exercised. Roberts v Parsons, 195 Ky 274, 242 SW 594.
     See confidential relation. [3]

Click for Full Definitions:

fiduciary – someone owes to another the duties of good faith, loyalty, due care, and disclosure in managing another’s money or property.

Various Types of Fiduciary Relationships:

agency – a fiduciary relationship which arises when one person (a principal) manifests assent to another (an agent) that the agent will act on the principal’s behalf, subject to the principal’s control, and. the agent manifests assent or otherwise consents to do so.

guardian/ward relationship – one person with legal authority has duty to care for another’s person or property, especially because of the other’s infancy, incapacity, or disability.

settlor/trustee/beneficiary relationship – one person must act with a high degree of care (fiduciarytrustee) in managing the estate of whoever sets up the trust (settlor) in a manner that benefits a beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Additional types of fiduciary relationships coming soon.

A Prime Example:

     A prime example of both a guardian/ward relationship and a settlor/trustee/beneficiary relationship is that which the United States Government is charged with upholding on behalf of American Indian Tribes.

Violation of Fiduciary Relationships:

     Although today there is only one form of action (the civil action) historically under the 11 common-law forms of action, the form of action that dealt with  the breach of a fiduciary relationship was called an action of account:

account – violation of fiduciary relation or to recover certain fixed sum of money for business contract breach.


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[1] Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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