Trusts and Estates

Season 1, Episode 8: Trustee Removal Litigation and Mediation

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The trustee is in the driver’s seat in how a trust is administered, deciding when and how assets will be allocated.  Parents who create trusts to benefit their children often pick one or more of them to serve as trustee.  The beneficiaries become unhappy with what the trustee is doing or failing to do.   A lawyer hired by the beneficiaries may file a petition in the Superior Court asking the judge to remove the trustee.

When is enough, enough?  What factors will a California probate judge consider when deciding whether to remove a trustee?  In this episode, we discuss Trolan v. Trolan, a case involving six sibling co-trustees, the Court of Appeal provided guidance to trustees, beneficiaries and their lawyers and explore the subject of trustee removal litigation.  The key statute is California Probate Code section 15642.  We’ll also talk about how disputes might be resolved in mediation, which a probate judge can require under Breslin v. Breslin.

About Our Guests:

Denise E. Chambliss is a shareholder at Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel based in San Jose.  She chairs the firm’s Trust and Estate Practice Group and its Trust and Estate Litigation Practice Group.  She litigates trust and estate cases across California and wrote an article on Trolan that appeared in Trusts and Estates Quarterly.  Denise was the lead attorney in a published case of first impression, Wilkin v. Nelson, in which the court granted judicial reformation of a decedent’s pour-over will to exclude unintended community property.  

As an Alameda County Superior Court judge for over 20 years, Judge Marshall Whitleydeveloped a statewide reputation as an expert in trust and estate cases.  He served as Supervising Judge, Judicial College faculty, Chair of the Probate Section for the Judicial Council’s Education & Research Committee, and Chair of the Council’s Probate Advisory subcommittees on Trusts and Rules & Forms.  As a law professor, Judge Whitley taught Taxation, Wills & Trusts, Probate Procedure, and Mediating Trust & Estate Disputes.  Currently a mediator – arbitrator – special discovery master, Judge Whitley helps resolve complex disputes involving technical and highly emotional issues.  He is a member of the panel at ADR Services, Inc.  

About Our Host:

Jeffrey Galvin is a partner at Downey Brand LLP based in Sacramento.  He litigates trust and estate cases around Northern California, representing trustees and beneficiaries.  He created and edited the blog Trust on Trial, which covers on California trust and estate litigation.  He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association. 

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