At the Bakersfield law office of Lynch & Lynch LLP, our firm has handled trust litigation involving the administration of large and complex estates in Los Angeles and Kern County, including cases before the California Appellate Court and California Supreme Court which broke new ground in the law of trust administration.
In most cases, there are several parties to a trust agreement: the settlor who creates the trust, the trustee who administers the terms of the trust, and the beneficiary who receives the proceeds from the trust. Depending upon the nature and purpose of the trust, some of these roles may be performed by the same person. In any event, each party is held to certain duties and standards of conduct in order to create and maintain a valid and enforceable trust.
Principal attorney Craig M. Lynch has represented beneficiaries in actions in Los Angeles County Superior Court in claims of breach of fiduciary duty by the trustee. Mr. Lynch was also co-counsel in a trial with an Am Law 100 law firm representing the trustee in which the probate court confirmed the sale by the trustee of a 68,000 acre ranch in Kern County for $48,000,000 over the objections of a minority of the beneficiaries.
A couple of the cases Mr. Lynch has litigated have established new law in the state of California. In 1997, Mr. Lynch argued and won the case of Moeller v. Superior Court before the California Supreme Court. This case held that the attorney-client privilege was held by the holder of the office of the trustee. Therefore, the successor trustee and not the predecessor trustee was the holder of the attorney-client privilege. Mr. Lynch represented Roger Moeller who was the successor trustee of the George and Grace Moeller Trust. Sanwa Bank was the predecessor trustee. After Roger Moeller became successor trustee he filed a petition to surcharge and made a request for production of documents relating to the administration of the trust, including all legal records and correspondence between the predecessor trustee and its attorneys. Sanwa objected on the grounds of attorney-client privilege. Moeller stated that he, as the successor trustee, was the holder of the attorney-client privilege. The trial court ruled in favor of Sanwa. Moeller took a writ to the Second Appellate District. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court. Sanwa petitioned the California Supreme Court for review. The California Supreme Court held that Roger Moeller as successor trustee was the holder of the attorney-client privilege and was entitled to the documents.
In the case of Oscar Rudnick as Trustee v. Phillip Rudnick, et al., Mr. Lynch was co-counsel with an Am Law 100 law firm representing the trustee in which new law was made regarding the power of the probate court acting in equity to award attorney’s fees to a trustee when a beneficiary engages in bad faith conduct that causes the trustee to incur attorney’s fees.
Craig M. Lynch has achieved proven results in complicated areas of litigation, including large and complex trusts and estates. For strong, effective advocacy in the resolution of a trust dispute, contact Lynch & Lynch LLP.