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Hearst v. Ganzi

145 Cal. App. 4th 1195 (2006)

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Hearst v. Ganzi

California Court of Appeal

145 Cal. App. 4th 1195 (2006)

Facts

The Hearst Family Trust was a testamentary trust. The trust contained a provision giving its trustees (defendants) the discretion to determine which trust assets were principal and which were income. The trust also specifically gave the trustees the discretion to choose to hold certain assets without investing or receiving any income from them, and to hold this type of unproductive property for as long as the trustees believed best. The trustees enacted a dividend policy for handling trust assets. This dividend policy reduced the amount of income being generated for the trust’s current income beneficiaries in favor of adding more funds to the trust’s principal. Several of the trust’s current income beneficiaries (plaintiffs) sued, claiming that the dividend policy violated the trustees’ duty of impartiality because it favored future beneficiaries over current income beneficiaries. The trial court found that the trustees had not breached their duty of impartiality, and the income beneficiaries appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Klein, J.)

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