Equitable Powers of Probate Court Provided the Fee Entitlement Ground.
In Zankich v. Zuckerman, Case No. B247274 (2d Dist., Div. 8 Dec. 5, 2014) (unpublished), a petition seeking forfeiture and surcharge was filed by one daughter beneficiary against the trust distribution interests of her sibling beneficiaries, all involving deceased mother’s trust and alleging that the other siblings were guilty of elder abuse/breached fiduciary duties. The lower court found that mother’s care before she died had been appropriate and determined that the petition had been filed in bad faith. The probate court then awarded a total of $204,420.32 to the respective attorneys representing the prevailing sibling beneficiaries.
Substantial evidence supported the bad faith ruling by the probate court. The fee entitlement was authorized based on the broad equitable powers of the probate court such that the fees award was affirmed on appeal. (Rudnick v. Rudnick, 179 Cal.App.4th 1328, 1334 (2009); Estate of Ivey, 22 Cal.App.4th 873, 878 (1994).)