Answer: In a California court.
But do read on.
Enter the case of Randolph Galt (no relation to "John"?) who is one of the beneficiaries of a California trust created by his grandfather and administered by Wells Fargo as trustee.
Mr. Galt brought a lawsuit under California's "Elder Abuse Law" against the trustee because the trust investments did not perform to his liking - and, consequently, he has suffered to the tune of some $13 million.
That is a lot of moola by anyone's reckoning, yes?
The Metropolitan News-Enterprise picks up this story in a recent article titled “Man, 85, Isn’t an ‘Elder,’ Under Statute, C.A. Rules.”
Problem 1: For his part, Mr. Galt has residences in Australia and in the State of Washington ... but not in California.
Problem 2: The California courts have ruled that Mr. Galt does not have "standing" to sue under that law because he is not a "resident" of the state and, therefore, not entitled to be considered a California "elder" the statute was intended to protect.
California Health and Welfare Code §15610.27 defines an “elder” as “any person residing in this state, 65 years of age or older.” (Emphasis added.)
Judge Perren went on to explain that
“Galt argue[d] the definition of ‘elder’ must be liberally construed to promote the Elder Abuse Act’s salient goals, but the only way to reach the result he advocates is to ignore the unequivocal statutory requirement that, to qualify as an elder, the person must ‘reside in this state.’… This would be no different than ignoring the requirement that the person be at least 65 years of age. Just as we cannot broadly interpret the statute to encompass persons under age 65, we cannot interpret it to include non-residents.”
Although the trust is situated in California, the Perren did not find that a sufficient basis to permit the action.
Perren explained “[t]hat the Trust has ties to California is irrelevant. Galt cites no statutory or decisional authority suggesting his position as a Trust beneficiary or manager grants him residency status.”
The underlying allegation is very serious.
Mismanaging a trust is a most serious matter.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney before you create a trust and select trustees, both present and future.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri), visit our estate planning website and be sure to subscribe to our complimentary estate planning e-newsletter while you are there.
Reference: Metropolitan News-Enterprise (September 24, 2015) “Man, 85, Isn’t an ‘Elder,’ Under Statute, C.A. Rules”