Probate Court Equitable Powers Prevail.
Estate of Sprott, Case No. B237989 (2d Dist., Div. 1 Nov. 22, 2013) (unpublished) is a case where a trust beneficiary of a modest trust estate of around $300,000 rang up over $100,000 in fees on bringing lots of motions which did not prevail. Ultimately, he was hit with about $105,300 in sanctions under CCP § 128.5, a determination affirmed on appeal based upon the appellate record.
BLOG OBSERVATION--Although not really raised, we at first thought section 128.5 only applied to pre-1995 actions, so that the predicate for the sanctions technically might be suspect. However, because probate courts have broad equitable powers of an inherent nature, we believe that the result was proper given that old section 128.5 really confers on the probate courts the same sanctioning powers based on the reasoning in Rudnick v. Rudnick, 179 Cal.App.4th 1328, 1334-1335 (2009), astutely cited by the Sprott appellate court and which seemed to say 128.5 sanctions were an equitable remedy available to probate courts. Put another way, the Sprott court got it right, no matter how you slice the turkey or ham.