No Fees For Trustee Of Special Needs Trust.

Plaintiff served as trustee of a special needs trust for four and a half months. The trust specified that any trustee who succeeded the public guardian was not entitled to compensation. Nonetheless plaintiff billed the estate $108,771.07, and the trial court awarded him $51,285.63, likely because it was the court who had appointed that particular trustee.  The appellate court reversed, noting that a trustee is entitled to compensation for its services either as provided in the “trust instrument,” if that document “provides for the trustee‟s compensation” (Probate Code section 15680, subdivision (a)), or “reasonable compensation” where “the trust instrument does not specify the trustee‟s compensation.” Prob. Code §15681. The appellate court concluded:  “It is apparent from the plain words of the two statutes in question that the provisions generally confer authority on the probate court to appoint a temporary trustee. There is neither mention of compensation generally nor conferment of specific authority to compensate a temporary trustee differently from the amount specified in the trust instrument.” Thorpe v. Audelith Jenivee Reed, as Trustee  (Cal. App. Sixth Dist.; December 13, 2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1381.

About Mark Mellor

Mr. Mellor obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree from Cornell University in 1988. While at Cornell he was a member of Cornell University’s National Debate and Forensics Team, repeatedly recognized as an exceptional debater and individual public speaker throughout the country. Mr. Mellor obtained his Juris Doctorate from Southwestern University School of Law in 1992. He was admitted to both the California and the District of Columbia Bars and has been practicing law for over 18 years in both state and federal courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Mellor started his own Real Estate and Business Litigation Practice in 2001 and has had three published opinions in the California Courts of Appeal since that time. Mr. Mellor is a past chair of the Executive Committee for the Litigation Section of the State Bar of California and was chair in (2007-2008); vice-chair (2006-2007); treasurer (2005-2006); secretary (2004-2005) and Executive Committee member (2002-2004). He also assists with the State Bar’s Real Estate Section Committee in California. He has special interests in real estate and business litigation involving loan modifications, foreclosures, mechanic’s liens, construction defects, business contracts, business entity formation, and technology.
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