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An 850 petition provides a statutory framework by which to pursue the missing property and bring it back into the trust.Another reason why 850 petitions have the potential to become so contentious is that §859 intersects with financial elder abuse.Machiavelli said it best: “Men will quickly forget their father’s death, but not the loss of their inheritance.” This article will outline some helpful tools that trust litigators can use to resolve these situations.The California Probate Code gifts practitioners many tools that can be pivotal in helping trust litigators regain control over some of the issues outlined above.If the beneficiary is successful in persuading the court that immediate suspension is appropriate, the court then must choose a successor trustee.Another effective tool trust litigators can utilize is California Probate Code §850 This code section provides a method for retrieving property that was taken out of the trust.The trust litigator must approach these cases with the greatest of care.
A few of the most integral issues as it relates to trust litigation are: determining questions about the construction of the trust instrument; the validity of a trust provision; determining who should and should not get the trust property; how much each beneficiary should get; settling accounts; approving discretionary acts taken by the trustee; instructing the trustee; compelling accountings by the trustee; and appointing or removing a trustee.
If a trustee will not agree to step down voluntarily, a petition for suspension or removal is a common method beneficiaries can use to suspend or remove the currently acting trustee and install a neutral.
Trust litigators representing professional trustees can preserve the professional trustee’s neutral position by petitioning the court for instructions on how the court thinks they should act under §17200. Another positive side to this technique is that it helps protect trustees from liability because their actions are based on the court’s explicit instructions.
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The last nail is hammered into the coffin and the casket is lowered into the ground.A skilled professional trustee can be very helpful in bringing an end to trust disputes.A professional third-party neutral with no inheritance at stake doesn’t have a reason to get embroiled in the passions of litigation.Sometimes, in especially difficult situations, parties will refuse to see eye to eye on even the most basic facts.