April 14, 2010

Trust Petition

Although a revocable trust is not necessarily a public record, the probate department of the superior court has the ability to intervene in the internal affairs of trusts. Prob C §17000(a).

Consequently Probate Code §17200(b) allows a trustee or beneficiary to petition the probate department of the superior court to resolve the following matters:

1. Determining questions of construction of a trust instrument;
2. Determining the existence or nonexistence of any immunity, power, privilege, duty, or right;
3. Determining the validity of a trust provision;
4. Ascertaining beneficiaries and determining to whom property shall pass on termination of the trust, to the extent not specified in the instrument;
5. Settling accounts and passing on the trustee's acts, including the exercise of discretionary powers;
6. Instructing the trustee;
7. Compelling the trustee to submit a report or account to the beneficiary under specified circumstances;
8. Granting powers to the trustee;
9. Fixing or allowing payment of the trustee's compensation or reviewing its reasonableness;
10. Appointing or removing a trustee;
11. Accepting the resignation of a trustee;
12. Compelling redress of a breach of the trust;
13. Modifying or terminating the trust;
14. Combining or dividing trusts;
15. Amending the trust to qualify a decedent's estate for the federal estate tax charitable deduction;
16. Transferring a trust or trust property between jurisdictions;
17. Transferring a supervised testamentary trust between counties;
18. Removing a testamentary trust from court supervision;
19. Excusing compliance with the governing instrument of an organization under Prob C §16105;
20. Determining the trust's liability for a deceased settlor's debts (but this does not confer standing to bring an action under Prob C §17200 on a person whose only claim to trust assets is as a creditor);
21. Determining petitions under Prob C §15687 (rules regarding dual compensation to attorney, who also acts as trustee, for legal services rendered to the trust) and reviewing the reasonableness of compensation for legal services under that section; and
22. Appointing a practice administrator for a deceased or disabled member of the State Bar under Prob C §9764 or §2468.