Trusts and Estates

Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly 2023, VOLUME 29, ISSUE 2

LITIGATION ALERT

Written by Jeremiah J. Moffit, Esq.,* Courtney A. Sorensen, Esq.,* Craig S. Weinstein, Esq.,* Sara Z. May, Esq.,* and Joubin Hanassab, Esq.

I. A TRUSTEE CAN BE SURCHARGED FOR FEES INCURRED IN DEFENDING AGAINST A TRUST CONTEST, UNLESS THE TRUST STATES THAT THE TRUSTEE CAN USE TRUST FUNDS TO DEFEND THE CONTEST

Zahnleuter v. Mueller (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 1294

The Third District Court of Appeal held that if a trust does not explicitly state that a trustee may use trust funds to defend against a trust contest, then the trustee must remain neutral in the litigation and cannot favor one beneficiary’s interest over another. The Court of Appeal further held that if the trustee improperly defends a trust contest, then the trustee can be surcharged for the amount he incurred in attorneys’ fees.

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