Trusts & Estates Bulletin

A Compendium of Recent Cases

  Brought to you by LACBA's Trusts & Estates Section   *  Volume I, Number 12   April 1, 2006

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IN THIS ISSUE:
Finkbeiner v. Gavid 
Conservatorship of Kane 
In re Conservatorship of Ben C

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Trusts & Estates Bulletin 
is published monthly by the
Trusts & Estates Section of the
Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA).

David C. Nelson,
Loeb & Loeb LLP, Editor
dnelson@loeb.com


(Cases appear in chronological order, with the oldest cases appearing first.) 

-Trusts and Estates-
Trustee who is not a lawyer may represent himself or herself in proceeding to terminate trust where doing so in fulfillment of his or duties as trustee. Where youngest beneficiary would not reach vesting age for 16 years and total trust assets were less than $200,000, trust value was "relatively low" in comparison with costs of administration, and court had discretion under Probate Code to terminate trust. Summary denial of petition to terminate was an abuse of discretion where trustee demonstrated that annual administrative cost of trust was disproportionate to the size of the trust estate, proposed a reasonable plan to modify the trust to distribute the trust estate into blocked accounts for the needs of beneficiaries, and no one appeared in court to object to the plan or otherwise challenge petition. Notice rights of minor beneficiaries were satisfied where trustee gave notice to the parents of each beneficiary and no parent appeared in court to contest notice or to challenge the merits of the petition; trial court exceeded its authority by ruling that notice had to be served on the minors and by ordering appointment of guardians ad litem. Where verification of petition was not made under penalty of perjury, and the omission was an apparent clerical error, trial court abused its discretion by not allowing petitioner to add the sworn verification by amendment. Denial of trustee’s fee request was an abuse of discretion where trustee rendered extraordinary services benefiting trust and amount requested was inarguably reasonable.
Finkbeiner v. Gavid - filed February 14, 2006; publication ordered February 27, 2006, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2006 SOS 1039
Click here for full text of case

-Trusts and Estates-
Under "substituted judgment" rule, probate court may, upon petition of conservator, substitute its judgment for that of conservatee and order that conservatee's inheritance be placed in a special needs trust rather than paid to conservatee directly, where conservatee would thus be able to pay for special needs while using public benefits for living expenses, rather than becoming ineligible for public benefits and being forced to deplete inheritance to pay living expenses, as would be the case if inheritance were paid to conservatee directly.
Conservatorship of Kane - filed March 6, 2006, First District, Div. Five
Cite as 2006 SOS 1251
Click here for full text of case  

-Civil Procedure-
Trial court may establish reasonable procedures for pro bono counsel for conservatees to obtain approval before incurring expert witness costs and had discretion to deny reimbursement where counsel failed to comply with such procedures.
In re Conservatorship of Ben C. - filed March 13, 2006, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2006 SOS 1346
Click here for full text of case 

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