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This Court has found that transactions between trustees and beneficiaries of a trust are “presumed fraudulent” and therefore “are voidable by the beneficiary unless the trustee can show by the greater weight of the evidence that the transaction was ‘open, fair and honest,'” and “that the beneficiary had a full and complete understanding of the transaction . . ..” Johnson v. Brown, 71 N.C. App. 660, 668, 323 S.E.2d 389, 394-95 (1984). Furthermore, defendants do not point to any terms of the trust that restrict the beneficiaries’ rights to view the trust instrument.
Section 173 of the Restatement (Second) of Trusts makes clear that a trustee must always provide beneficiaries complete and accurate information and documentation regarding the trust:
The trustee is under a duty to the beneficiary to give him upon his request at a reasonable time complete and accurate information as to the nature and amount of the trust property, and to permit him or a person duly authorized by him to inspect the subject matter of the trust and the accounts and vouchers and other documents relating to the trust.
Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 173. Section 173 also clearly provides authority for the position that beneficiaries are entitled to view trust documents relating to their interest in the trust.
, the beneficiary is always entitled to such information as is reasonably necessary to enable him to enforce his rights under the trust or to prevent or redress a breach of trust.
Justice Cardozo’s words concerning a fiduciary’s duty still ring true today:
A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place. Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard of behavior. As to this there has developed a tradition that is unbending and inveterate Seaver v. Ransom – Where a niece gets an inheritance from her Aunt that her Uncle was supposed to give her in HIS will…. Oral – Nuncupative Wills – definition that says they are normally invalid Under the then prevailing conditions it was natural that provisions for oral or nuncupative wills should have been made and we find three sections of the 1850 Act devoted to this subject. As at present, such a will must have been reduced to writing within thirty days after the words were spoken, and probate must be within six months after the speaking of the words. The 1850 law limited the size of the estate disposable by such a will to $500 ($1,000 at present). But as to soldiers and mariners on active duty the 1850 Act apparently allowed nuncupative wills of personal property to be good with no limitation at all, whereas the present law places such wills under the same restrictions as to amount and procedure as other nuncupative wills and requires “actual contemplation, fear or peril of death. 11 As to civilians, the 1850 Act limited oral wills to “time of last sickness” ; the present law limits them to “expectation of immediate death from an injury received the same day.” Source California doesn’t recognize Nuncupative Wills – SourceAnother Source Source
Plaintiff alleged, and the trial court found, that on or before April 18, 1953, Mr. and Mrs. Crail orally agreed that the first spouse who died would leave his or her estate to the other spouse, on the condition that the survivor would leave their combined estate to their children in equal shares. The evidence disclosing the existence of the oral contract is sparse but is substantial enough to constitute support for the trial court’s findings.
Children of deceased parents who had executed mutual wills whereunder each parent left his estate to the surviving parent or, in the event neither survived, to the children, brought an action to enforce an oral agreement allegedly made by the parents under which the survivor was to leave all the parents’ property to plaintiffs. The action was initiated as a result of the father’s failure, on his death as the last survivor, to carry out the terms of the agreement. The trial court held for the plaintiffs. (Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. 971059, Benjamin Landis, Judge.)
The Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting numerous contentions of insufficiency of evidence. As a basis for taking the oral agreement out of operation of the statute of frauds, the court referred to testimony indicating that the mutual wills had been made to protect the children, and that the mother had changed her position in reliance on the agreement. The court noted, further, that to apply the statute in the instant case would result in unjust enrichment.
Crail v. Blakely
106 Cal.Rptr. 187
It is an age-old principle of our law that no man should judge or otherwise officially preside over disputed matters in which he has a pecuniary interest. The rule is given expression in the law of trusts. ‘It is against public policy to permit any person occupying fiduciary relations to be placed in such a position that he may be tempted to betray his duty as a trustee. * * *’ (Sims v. Petaluma Gas Light Co., 131 Cal. 656, 659, 63 P. 1011, 1012.)
in view of public policies of maintaining parent-child relationships
Best interests of the child are always paramount in any of the numerous proceedings that determine the custody of the child. In re B.G. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 679, 114 Cal.Rptr. 444, 523 P.2d 244;Civ.Code, § 4600.)
It is in the best interests of all parties that this parent-child relationship not be disrupted.
Guardianship of Claralyn S.
195 Cal.Rptr. 646
Cal.App. 5 Dist.,1983.
Generally courts will not assist in enforcing an agreement when the object of the agreement is either illegal or against public policy.
Dunkin v. Boskey
98 Cal.Rptr.2d 44
Cal.App. 1 Dist.,2000
A promise or other term of an agreement is unenforceable on grounds of public policy if legislation provides that it is unenforceable or the interest in its enforcement is clearly outweighed in the circumstances by a public policy against the enforcement of such terms. Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 178 comment.