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Round-up of Recent Decisions Relevant to Trustee and Protector Liability and Indemnities

There continue to be an increasing number of offshore Court judgments considering the nature and extent of an offshore trustee’s liability to third parties (including third parties in foreign jurisdictions), and the rights of...more

Can Remainder Beneficiaries of a Revocable Trust Sue for a Breach of Fiduciary Duty That Occurred During the Settlor’s Lifetime?

Imagine the following scenario: The trustee of a revocable trust dissipates a substantial amount of trust assets to buy men’s basketball season tickets at the Dean E. Smith Center. The settlor does not follow college...more

Why infect the law of trusts with good faith doctrine?

The law’s good faith principle has traditionally regulated legal relationships, such as the contractual relationship. Equity’s more intense fiduciary principle has generally regulated equitable relationships, such as the...more

Wife's Undue Influence Over Changes Made to Husband's Trust Voids Changed Terms of the Trust

A California court of appeal affirmed a ruling voiding the terms of a trust after finding that there was ample evidence to support that the decedent's wife used undue influence over him to change the trust. The court held in...more

Insight on Estate Planning - February/March 2014

In This Issue: - The BDIT: A trust with a twist - Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa! 3 estate-planning-friendly strategies to pay for a grandchild’s college education - Power of attorney abuse: What can you do...more

Motion to Strike Under Anti-SLAPP Statute Erroneously Granted in Connection With Conversion, Unjust Enrichment and Breach of...

A motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute was filed in response to a lawsuit initiated by beneficiaries against a trustee and executor of an estate. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit...more

Family Battle Royale: Lessons Learned from the Rollins Trust Dispute Case

Rollins v. Rollins, a recent breach of trust and fiduciary duty case, addressed interesting issues at the appellate level regarding the dilemma that can ensue when two older family members are selected as trustees of a trust...more

What to Do If You Believe a Fiduciary is Mishandling Assets

It is quite common for beneficiaries, shareholders and other parties in interest to have questions or concerns about how a fiduciary is handling their affairs. Sometimes these concerns can bloom into full-fledged litigation...more

Fiduciary Liability and Offshore Assets

Fiduciaries, like trustees and conservators, may face personal liability for wrongful acts in administering estates. Among the liabilities that a fiduciary may face is to the IRS for wrongful distributions such as those made...more

Fiduciary Duty and What it Means to You

Fiduciary duty is a concept that appears across a wide variety of areas of law, so much so that most people in California will probably serve in a fiduciary capacity at some point in their lives. While the details of...more

The Limits of Discretion: Trust Distributions for Health, Education, Maintenance and Support

Trustees are often granted the power to distribute trust property “in the Trustee’s discretion” for a beneficiary’s “general well-being,” “best interests,” “comfort,” or, most commonly, “health, education, maintenance and...more

Trustees Holding Interests in the Family Business: Intersection of Shareholder and Member Rights and Fiduciary Duties

Trustees holding interests in family enterprises may have conflicting duties to the beneficiaries as well as unrelated shareholders and members of the business. ...more

So, You inherited an unreported offshore account, now what!

There may have been a time when inheriting an unreported offshore financial account was not problematic; but not today. The executor/trustee of the estate of the decedent has fiduciary responsibility to IRS and faces personal...more

Courts Do Not Always Agree

I blogged recently about a decision from a federal district court in Virginia (Eastern District) involving a widow who sought to recover life insurance benefits from her late husband’s employer-sponsored group term life...more

Frivolous Arguments Lead To Sanctions And Attorney Fee Award Against Defendant And His Law Firm

After protracted litigation in a probate matter was resolved in his favor, the trustee of an estate sued a trust beneficiary and his law firm for malicious prosecution. The defendants made a special motion to strike under the...more

Tax Liens, Tenancy By Entireties, And The Federal Claims Statute Combine To Produce Fiduciary Liability

A particular mixture of a federal tax lien, a transfer of tenancy by entireties property during lifetime, and the federal claims statute resulted in personal liability to the executors of the estate of a surviving spouse for...more

U.S. Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split in Bullock v. BankChampaign, N.A.

One of the primary purposes of bankruptcy is to provide for the discharge of certain debts in order to enable a debtor to obtain a "fresh start" post-bankruptcy. Notwithstanding this specific purpose, section 523 of Title 11...more

Litigating Accounts With Rights of Survivorship in Texas

In this article: - I. Introduction - II. Valid Survivorship Accounts - III. Joint Accounts Between Spouses - IV. Burden Of Proving Enforcable Survivorship Accounts - V. Proving Contents Of...more

Sanctions Are Issued Where Court Determines That Special Motion To Strike Was Filed For Improper Purpose

In Kleveland v. Siegel & Wolensky LLP, 2013 DAR 4961(2013) the California Courts of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District affirmed the denial of a special motion to strike and the award of costs and attorney fees as...more

Court Reverses The Appointment Of A Receiver Over Trust Property

Courts generally review receiverships very closely, and a party requesting one should follow all required procedures. In Elliott v. Weatherman, parents created an irrevocable living trust and designated their three adult...more

Whose Standing Is It, Anyway?

Does the trustee of a revocable trust ever have a duty to account to the remainder beneficiaries of the trust? The Supreme Court of California says yes, but not until after the death of the settlor. In a recent decision, In...more

SEC Settles Suit for Misleading Advisory Contract Approval Disclosure

Settlement with mutual fund directors and service providers serves as a reminder of responsibilities for disclosures relating to the approval of investment advisory contracts and provides insight into SEC enforcement...more

SEC Settles with Service Providers and Trustees of two Mutual Fund Trusts for Inaccurate Disclosures Regarding Section 15(c)...

On May 2, 2013, the SEC filed an order instituting settled administrative proceedings against the trustees (“Trustees”) and certain service providers of two “turnkey” open-end series investment companies, Northern Lights Fund...more

SEC Sanctions Fund Trustees for Inadequate Disclosures and Failure to Follow Compliance Policies

The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged the trustees of two “turnkey” mutual fund trusts with causing untrue or misleading disclosures about their review of the funds’ advisory contracts. The Commission also...more

Beneficiaries Of Trust Have Standing To Sue Trustee For Breach Of Fiduciary Duty That Occurred During Settlor’s Lifetime

In Estate of Giraldin (--- P.3d ----, Cal., December 20, 2012), the California Supreme Court considered whether beneficiaries of a trust, following the settlor’s death, had standing to sue the trustee for breach of fiduciary...more

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