In a contested hearing on a trustee’s accounting, the trustee bears the burden of proving the amount of each charge and the fact that it was spent for a proper purpose. However, if a beneficiary claims that the trustee should be surcharged, the beneficiary bears the burden of proving the trustee’s duty, breach of that duty, and resulting damage to the trust. In this case, the trust did not confer absolute discretion on the trustee, so his exercise of discretion was to be judged by a “reasonableness” standard rather than a “bad faith standard.” Here, the trustee was properly surcharged for using trust funds to pay the beneficiary’s rent and her mother’s car since the trust said the trust corpus was to be used for expenses made necessary by the beneficiary’s disabilities, not ordinary living expenses.
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2 (Miller, J.); August 22, 2018; 26 Cal. App. 5th 463