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Alas Poor Urick: SLAPP-stick Comedy Relieves Probate Court Drama

Updated 2/1/18: In Gaynor v Bulen (Jan. 23, 2018, D070907) 2018 Cal App Lexis 53, the court held that a petition alleging that trust assets were improperly used in probate litigation was not a cause of action arising from protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute. Although the alleged breach of loyalty may have been carried out by the filing of probate petitions, the petitioning activity itself was not the basis of the claim.

Despite its name, a statute designed to deter strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) has been applied to a variety of private disputes, including probate proceedings, as a recent decision illustrates. Continue reading

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Professional Trustee

ThinkstockPhotos-142081160Your client, as settlor, creates a special needs trust set up for a child or grandchild and needs a professional trustee to administer it. Before hiring a potential trustee, the client should determine whether he or she is personally and philosophically compatible with the professional who will actually be managing the trust. You should ask the following questions about the trustee’s background, investment strategy, fees, and management style. Continue reading

Protecting Digital Assets: 6 Steps to Take on Death or Incapacity

ThinkstockPhotos-174474186It used to be enough for a fiduciary and her attorney to simply search through a decedent’s or incapacitated person’s papers in his or her workplace and at home, watch the mailbox for a 90 day cycle, and review tax returns and account statements. Things are more complicated now and a fiduciary must take several more immediate steps with regard to digital assets. Continue reading

Using Fiduciary Accountings as a Client Management Tool

178406759When representing a fiduciary such as a conservator or personal representative, you’re often dealing with a lay person who may be feeling overwhelmed by unfamiliar responsibilities. One way to bring the situation under control is to use the fiduciary accounting as a client management tool. Here’s how. Continue reading

No Means No for Successor Trustee of Special Needs Trust With No-Compensation Clause

trustee_99933680A trustee is entitled to compensation for services as provided in the trust instrument when the trust “provides for a trustee’s compensation” (Prob C §15680(a)), or “reasonable compensation” when the trust instrument “does not specify the trustee’s compensation” (Prob C §15681). But what if the trust provides for no compensation? In that case, the trustee is out of luck. Continue reading

Attorney as Trustee: Watch Out for Double Compensation

When an attorney is also acting as the trustee, there are very specific limitations on the attorney getting compensated both as counsel and as trustee. It may seem like an efficiency to have a two-for-one situation, but it may end up being double the work for half the money. Continue reading

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Do You Need A Trust Protector?

In the world of estate planning, nothing is as constant as change. Settlors cannot always foresee changes in the law, or changes in the circumstances of trust beneficiaries. Enter the trust protector. Continue reading

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