We often represent abused beneficiaries who are forced by trustee inaction to petition the probate court to order the trustee to account. The petition must follow the formalities set forth in the probate code.
Once the trustee accounts, the petitioner and their advisers will take a close look at the information provided. If the trustee fails to maintain accurate record, they are presumed to be in violation of their fiduciary duties.
The trustee has the duty to prove every item of their account by satisfactory evidence. Doubts from the failure of the trustee to keep records are resolved against the trustee. The trustee has the duty to support every item of the account.
How do these cases arise? I’ll start with noting that they arise with frequency. Example:
Sister is named in mother’s trust as mother’s successor trustee. The trust provides that at mother’s death the assets are to be split between sister and her two brothers. Mother dies.
Sister takes over the trust and controls its assets. The trust owns a house in San Francisco.
Sister puts her son in the house. Son does not pay rent. Sister won’t sell the house. Sister won’t distribute assets to her brothers.
Two years have gone by and sister is doing nothing. Brothers hire a law firm and sue for a trust accounting. Sister cannot provide any receipts. She provides some demonstrably false information. Her records are nearly nonexistent. There is strong evidence that she has mishandled financial accounts.
Sister has breached her fiduciary duty. With further court proceedings she can be charged for her violations of fiduciary duty. She can be removed.
At Hackard Law we handle similar cases with regularity. We represent clients in substantial cases where we think that we can make a significant difference and there is a wrongdoer who can be made financially accountable for their wrongdoing or breach of duty.
We focus our practice in California’s largest urban areas including Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Sacramento Counties. If you would like to speak with us about your case, call us at Hackard Law (916): 313-3030.
We’ll be happy to hear your story.