Trusts and Estates

Parker v Schwarcz

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Cite as A165163
Filed October 19, 2022, First District, Div. Three

By Erika J. Gasaway
Hopkins & Carley

Headnote: 850 Petitions – Property Subject to Orders

Summary:  Probate Code section 850, which authorizes the return of real or personal property,  may not be used to obtain documents and communications.

After the temporary conservatorship was terminated, the former conservatee, Parker, filed a petition pursuant to Probate Code section 850 requesting that the former conservator, Schwarcz, provide Parker with communications and documents relating to Schwarcz’s administration of the temporary conservatorship estate.  The trial court denied the petition on the grounds that Parker was no longer a conservatee and that Section 850 applies only to personal property.  The trial court mused that Parker might be entitled to the documents and communications through discovery but that Section 850 was simply the wrong procedural mechanism to obtain the documents and communications.

The appellate court affirmed.  In this matter of first impression, the appellate court assumed without deciding that Parker had standing as a “claimant” under Section 850.  The legislative history of Section 850 shows that the purpose of the statute is to allow conservators the ability to recover “assets” that should be part of the relevant estate by effecting a conveyance or transfer of title of real or personal property.  Cases applying Section 850 deal exclusively with real and personal property.   Documents and communications do not carry the same indicia as real or personal property because they are not the type of items to which one holds title, they have no inherent value to fund the conservatorship estate or pay down debts, and in this instance the documents and communications at issue were not previously owned by the claimant.  As a result, documents and communications do not qualify as the type of property that may be recovered through Section 850.

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