Cited Probate Code Sections 2622.5, 11003, and 17211 Did Not Provide Fee Entitlement.
Dohr v. Lintz, Case No. G046091 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Oct. 31, 2012) (unpublished), authored on behalf of a unanimous panel by Acting Presiding Justice Rylaarsdam, shows that a fee claimant needs to have a firm fee entitlement basis in order to uphold a fee award. That did not happen in this one.
In essence, a trustee gained attorney’s fees of $87,000 for winning a petition for instructions concerning the trust’s responsibility to pay the beneficiary’s living expenses. The fee petition was squarely based on Probate Code sections 2622.5, 11003, and 17211.
On appeal, the fee order was reversed. Reason? No fee entitlement shown based on the cited Probate Code provisions. Sections 2622.5 involves guardianships/conservatorships, while section 11003 concerns settlement of an account in the administration of a decedent’s estate--no trust applicability was at issue under the case under consideration.
That left Probate Code section 17211, which did apply to trust proceedings. However, the rub was that the case involved a petition for instructions about trust obligations, not an accounting about the trust’s assets--with 17211 focusing on a trust accounting. (Leader v. Cords, 182 Cal.App.4th 1588, 1599 (2010) [17211 does not broadly apply to petitions concerning the internal affairs of the trust, but relates to trust accountings].) Given this reality, no fee entitlement upheld the fee award, overturned on appeal.