Petitioners Failed to Establish Grounds for Removal of Co-trustees.

The petitioners were three of the four sons (and equal beneficiaries) of a decedent’s estate. The estate, which was poured into trusts, comprised a large operating ranch and mineral interests. The trusts provided that one of the decedent’s sons and the decedent’s nephew were to be the co-trustees. The trusts also provided that none of the remaining sons or their descendants was to ever serve as trustees. The petitioners sought to remove the co-trustees on the grounds of breach of fiduciary duty stemming from the allegation that the co-trustee brother acted with a conflict of interest in serving as both co-trustee and as president of the ranch corporation (the stock of which was held by the trust). In affirming the district court’s denial of the petition, the court found that the petitioners had failed to show that the district court abused its discretion. The record revealed that the co-trustees followed the instructions of the decedent, the brother co-trustee was a CPA who carefully maintained all records, and the trust property was productive. At the heart of the matter, stated the court, was a family farm passed down to beneficiaries who disagreed with the decedent’s decisions. Kavon v. Kavon, No. 13-0576, 2014 MT 100N, 2014 Mont. LEXIS 154 (Mont. Sup. Ct. Apr. 15, 2014).

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