An essential aspect of estate planning is the Trustee, who will be tasked to carry out wishes. This is such an important role that potential Trustees are usually asked if they would be willing to take on the responsibility before being named in a Trust. Occasionally, however, Trustees are surprised to find that they have been named. Regardless of how the role comes to you, the Trustor (sometimes called “Settlor,” “Grantor,” or “Trustmaker”) trusted you and believed you to be responsible. Selection as Trustee is an honor, but attorneys know that it can be quite an undertaking.
Continue Reading So, You’re the Trustee of an Estate…Now What?

In the recently published case of Hudson v. Foster, 2021 Cal.App. LEXIS 737, the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, Division Five, determined that a former conservatee who discovered that certain transactions in his conservator’s previously approved accounting were falsely reported, was under no obligation to comb through records to verify the truth of the representations made by the conservator in the accounting.  The case is detailed with respect to the facts, but it puts fiduciaries on notice that full disclosure of material facts is required, and even slightly skewing the reporting of a transaction can be considered fraud.
Continue Reading Don’t Skimp on The Facts – Failure of Fiduciaries to Make Full Disclosure of Matters Set Forth in an Accounting May be Considered Fraud

As trusts and estates litigation counsel, we often have matters where a fiduciary, either as a trustee, conservator, personal representative, or agent under a power of attorney, fails to provide financial information when properly requested, or to provide an accounting if one is required under law.  The result is that the person seeking the accounting may be left with no alternative but to file a petition with the court for an order compelling the fiduciary to submit an accounting, most commonly by requesting that the accounting be filed within the court proceeding.
Continue Reading Bringing Down the Hammer – California Appellate Court Upholds $1,000 Per Day Sanction For Failure To Timely File Accounting

Last month, my Weintraub colleagues and I had the pleasure of speaking at the Professional Fiduciary Association of California annual conference on the topic of the attorney-client privilege and its application to clients serving in a fiduciary capacity (trustee, executor, conservator, agent, etc.).

Most people have a cursory understanding of what the attorney-client privilege does – it keeps communications between clients and their attorneys confidential and free from discovery, which fosters honest and complete communication between client and lawyer – but many individuals don’t realize that there are important limitations and exceptions to the privilege, particularly for those serving as fiduciaries. These crucial limitations and exceptions apply regardless of whether the fiduciary is a professional fiduciary or simply an individual who is administering a trust or estate or serving as a conservator for a loved one or friend.


Continue Reading Focus on Fiduciaries: What Fiduciaries Need to Know About the Attorney-Client Privilege

Based on recent appellate cases, one of which is discussed below, the court’s scrutiny of conservators’ conduct and, specifically, private fiduciaries, is seemingly on the rise. Private fiduciaries acting as conservators should always remain focused on performing and charging only for those services that are consistent with the best interests of their conservatees. California case law continues to refine that understanding.
Continue Reading A Case Lesson in “What Not To Do” When Billing as a Conservator