Trust Accounting Litigation

Under California law, the Beneficiaries of a trust have a right to an accounting from the Trustee. While many attorneys and fiduciaries in the probate bar are still unaware of the monumental consequences, rights and duties that evolved from the California Supreme case of Giraldin v. Giraldin and related cases we are ready to litigate to help protect your rights.

California Trust Law, in general, provides that a trustee of a revocable trust owes fiduciary duties only to the person who holds the power to revoke, typically the settlor.

An account and report filed with the Court in compliance with Probate Code sections 1060-1064 ("Accounting") detailing all of the trustees acts and transactions as Trustee of the Trust may be appropriate in circumstances where the Beneficiary does not receive regularly accountings.  If the accounting you received fails to comply to include all schedules and disclosures required under the Probate Code.  Prob. Code §§ 1060-1064 please call our offices.

In other situations, an accounting may have been provided, but the Beneficiaries may find the actions of the Trustee to be objectionable and may wish to seek to have the Trustee replaced. 

Beneficiaries are  entitled to the backup documentation to support the correctness of every expenditure the trustee has made.  Purdy v. Johnson, 174 Cal. 521, 531 (1917).  The Trustee maintains a duty to keep careful records of the trust administration under Probate Code sections 16009 and 16063.  See also,  Purdy v. Johnson, 174 Cal. 521 at 163. 

Upon reasonable request by a beneficiary, the trustee must provide the beneficiary with a report of the information relating to the assets, liabilities, receipts, and disbursements of the trust, the acts of the trustee, and the particular terms of the trust that are relevant to the beneficiary's interest. (Probate Code §16061). Also Probate Code §16062 requires the trustee to provide an accounting at least annually, at termination of the trust, and upon a change of trustee to each beneficiary to whom current distribution of income or principal is authorized. Moreover, the trustee must maintain proper accounts. Accounting requirements are beyond the scope of this discussion—for example, generally, the records might be required to differentiate between potentially confusing accounting aspects such as income and principal allocations. Accountings can be complicated.

If the trustee in your situation is a professional trustee such as a bank they are held to a higher standard.

A professional trustee or trustee with presumed expertise is held to a greater standard of care than a lay person [Estate of Collins (1977) 72 CA3d 663, 673, 139 CR 644; Coberly v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1965) 231 CA2d 685, 689, 42 CR 64]. Those undertaking to render expert services in the practice of a profession or trade are required to have and apply the skill, knowledge and competence ordinarily possessed by their fellow practitioners under similar circumstances, and the failure to do so subjects them to liability for negligence [Estate of Beach (1975) 15 C3d 623, 635, 125 CR 570, 542 P2d 994].

If you feel that there is something wrong with the way your California Trust has been handled, or your assets have not been protected, please CONTACT The Law Offices of Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP to discuss your trust matter today. Please contact our office today at 310-914-3222 from the greater Los Angeles area, or 415-465-6566 in San Francisco, or 714-280-0601 from Orange County or 818-787-1011 from Ventura County.