Babbitt v. Superior Court
Filed April 25, 2016, Second District, Div. Seven Cite as B263917
Mary Lynne and Leland Babbitt established a revocable trust. Upon Leland’s death, the trust was divided into two subtrusts: the revocable survivor’s trust and the irrevocable decedent’s trust. Leland’s daughter, Carol McCormack, petitioned to compel Mary Lynne to account for both subtrusts. Mary Lynne opposed the petition as to the revocable survivor’s trust, but the probate court granted Carol’s petition to compel both accountings. Mary Lynne filed a petition for a writ of mandamus and a request for a stay of the proceedings.
The appellate court issued a peremptory writ of mandate to vacate the probate court’s order. While a trust is revocable, a trustee owes duties solely to the settlor, and a contingent beneficiary may not compel a trustee to account for a revocable trust as long as the settlor is not incapacitated, incompetent, or subject to undue influence. Even though a beneficiary has standing to compel an accounting or information from a trustee when a trust or a portion of a trust becomes irrevocable, the probate court does not have the authority to order a trustee to account or provide information regarding a revocable trust while it is still revocable and the settlor is competent and not subject to undue influence.