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By David W. Tate
Christie v. Kimball (California Court of Appeal, Second District, January 26, 2012) [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers / unenhanced version available from lexisONE Free Case Law], holds that the probate court can order an accounting sua sponte
(i.e., on its own initiative) under its general powers and that
generally an order compelling an accounting standing alone is not
appealable. Let me just say, if there was any doubt, as a general
matter, I would like to see judges take more initiative to get the
information out there and available. I do note that there was an
argument that the person requesting an accounting did not have legal
standing for such. The trial court stated that it was not determining
that issue (i.e., whether the person was entitled to an accounting), but
was ordering an accounting for its own benefit so that the court could
determine what was going on. Kind of a slippery slope. Generally I
don't support having to provide an accounting when standing is lacking;
however, many trust and estate issues raise equitable issues, such as in
cases where there is reliable evidence of possible wrongdoing, undue
influence or misappropriation. In many of those situations it is
helpful that the court has discretion to act on its own.
DAVID W. TATE, ESQ.
Blogs: http://davidtate.wordpress.com; http://californiaestatetrust.wordpress.com
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