Recent Cases of Interest to Fiduciaries: February 2016

February 18, 2016

In the most recent installment of the McGuireWoods Fiduciary Advisory Services annual multipart series on recent fiduciary cases, developments in the law concerning various topics are examined through the following:

  • Berlinger v. Wells Fargo, N.A. , Case No. 2:11-cv-459-FtM-29CM, 2015 WL 6125529 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 16, 2015) Discretionary distributions to beneficiary which were used in part to satisfy alimony obligations were not improper
  • Rollins v. Rollins , No. S15G0567, 2015 WL 7424854 (Ga. Nov. 23, 2015) Court confirms and clarifies its earlier opinion, that trustees of a trust are held to a more deferential corporate-level fiduciary standard when the trustees control a corporate entity in which the trust holds a minority interest, and are held to a heightened trustee-level fiduciary standard when the trustees were acting on behalf of the trust, and also holds that a court may determine the capacity in which a trustee was acting without submitting the question to a jury
  • Sterling v. Sterling , 242 Cal.App.4th 185 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 16, 2015) In action regarding sale of Los Angeles Clippers, Court confirms that co-trustee Donald Sterling was properly removed as co-trustee for lack of capacity, and the trial court acted within its discretion in allowing sale of team
  • Yianilos v. Hunter , No. D066333, 2015 WL 7423047 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 23, 2015) Finding that when a trust instrument confers absolute discretion on a trustee, the trustee must still act in line with fiduciary principles and with regard to the purposes of the trust, and finding that the trustee abused its discretion and should be surcharged for failing to properly sell trust assets
  • Rafalko v. Georgiadis , 777 S.E.2d 870 (Va. Nov. 5, 2015) Beneficiary’s letter threatening to file trust contest suit was not sufficient to trigger trust’s no contest clause
  • In the Matter of: The Hawk Mountain Trust , C.A. No. 7334-VCP, 2015 WL 5243328 (Del. Ct. Chanc. Sept. 8, 2015) Delaware court finds that the individual co-trustees had reasonably incurred over $1 million of attorneys’ fees over five years of litigation, and therefore these fees were properly chargeable to the trust
  • Ard v. Hudson , No. 02-13-00198-CV, 2015 WL 4967045 (Tex. Ct. App. Aug. 20, 2015) Beneficiary’s lawsuit against trustees and executors did not trigger no contest clause
  • Hughes v. Tower Park Properties , LLC, 803 F.3d 450 (9th Cir. Sept. 28, 2015) Trust beneficiary lacks standing to intervene in bankruptcy proceeding involving a trust creditor
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Cook , 775 S.E.2d 199 (Ga. App. Oct. 5, 2015) Sending of statements to beneficiaries constituted the sending of a “report” to beneficiaries, which triggered a two-year statute of limitations on actions against the trustee
  • Edmonds v. Edmonds, 772 S.E.2d 898 (Va. June 4, 2015) When will was in the decedent’s possession and could not be located upon decedent’s death, evidence of decedent’s actions and statements regarding estate plan was sufficient to rebut presumption that decedent destroyed the will with intent to revoke it
  • In re JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. , 133 A.D.3d 1292 (N.Y. App. Nov. 20, 2015) Trustee was not negligent in failing to dispose of 95% of stock within 30 days of receipt, and the trustee’s actions regarding diversification did not violate applicable prudent person rule and prudent investor rule
  • In re Trust under Agreement of Taylor , 124 A.3d 334 (Pa. Super. Ct. Sept. 18, 2015) Consent of beneficiaries enables Court to modify trust in order to add a provision to allow beneficiary removal and replacement of a trustee, and other provisions of Pennsylvania relating to the Court’s removal of a trustee do not prohibit such a modification

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