Related Attorney: Stephen M. Lowe
On December 20, 2012, in a case argued by Stephen Lowe, the California Supreme Court issued its landmark opinion in the Estate of William A. Giraldin, protecting the rights of the elderly and their children.
The court ruled that while a trustee only owes fiduciary duties to the trustor while the trust is revocable, after the trustor dies, remainder beneficiaries have standing to sue for breaches of fiduciary duty which took place while the trust was revocable. As an example, if a third party trustee, such as a financial advisor or a self-motivated child, takes control of an elderly parent’s assets and misuses them during that parent’s lifetime, the damaged beneficiaries have standing to sue after the parent dies rather than having to involve that parent in litigation during the last years of his or her life.
The FFS team of attorneys had obtained a surcharge in excess of $5 million at trial and the Supreme Court’s opinion remands the case to the Court of Appeal for further proceedings.