Lower Court’s Factual Findings Below Buttressed Affirmance.
Beneficiaries objecting to trustees’ accountings need to make sure their objections are reasonable and not inspired by bad faith. If not, you face having to bear the exposure of trustees’ attorney’s fees in defending against such objections. (Prob. Code, § 17211; Uzyel v. Kadsha, 188 Cal.App.4th 866, 926-927 (2010).)
In Okonski v. Jones, Case No. G048475 (4th Dist., Div. 3 Mar. 5, 2015) (unpublished), this reality became truth when a lower court approved a successor trustee’s account and report, overruling all of beneficiary’s objections in the process. The lower court also found the objections to be unreasonable and brought in bad faith, awarding trustee certain fees and costs for defending against the meritless objections.
Although beneficiary appealed, no relief would result from this move. Reasonable cause is reviewed de novo, but the record showed no merit to the 12 objections at all. Bad faith is reviewed based on substantial evidence, but the record showed the objections were motivated by anger and disappointment rather than truly objective concerns. So, with that being said, the fees/costs award was affirmed given the detailed statement of decision by the lower court showing the propriety of the award.
Justice Fybel authored the 3-0 decision on behalf of the panel.