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Patton v. Sherwood
California Court of Appeal
152 Cal. App. 4th 339 (2007)
Lowell Patton (plaintiff) and his wife created three irrevocable trusts that would provide income to each of their three children during the children’s lifetimes. At each child’s death, the remainder of that child’s trust would be donated to a designated charity. As the settlor, i.e., creator, of the trusts, Patton included provisions in each trust instrument retaining the right to change the trusts’ trustees and charitable beneficiaries. The trusts’ provisions also gave Patton the right to review and object to an accounting from the trustees. Patton initially appointed Matthew Mack and Mark Sherwood (defendants) as cotrustees of all three trusts. However, after a few years, Patton sued to remove Mack and Sherwood from the trusts. The trustees voluntarily resigned from one trust, and the court removed them from the other two trusts. However, the trustees then provided an accounting and asked the court to allow them to collect their fees and expenses from the trusts and to release them from any liability for their actions as trustees. Patton objected to the trustees’ requests, claiming that the trustees had charged excessive fees and breached their fiduciary duties as trustees. The trial court held that only a trust beneficiary or a trustee had standing to object to a trust accounting or otherwise enforce a trust. Because Patton was the trust’s settlor, the trial court ruled that he lacked standing to make the objections and dismissed them. Patton appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Yegan, J.)
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