Christie v. Kimball, 202 Cal. App. 4th 1407 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2012)
In 2005, Mary Schwartz created a trust for the benefit of her two daughters, Danita Christie and Paulette Kimball, and named Christie as the sole trustee. Schwartz died in 2008. In 2009, a dispute between Kimball and Christie arose over whether certain real property located in Camarillo, California, was trust property. Kimball filed a petition in the superior court to compel an accounting, and the court ordered Christie to file a formal trust accounting. Christie appealed, arguing that Kimball was not a beneficiary with standing to request an accounting.
The Court of Appeal of California affirmed the trial court on the grounds that: (1) pursuant to the California Probate Code, a court’s order that a trustee produce an account or report of the trustee’s acts is not appealable; (2) regardless of whether Kimball had standing to request an accounting, the court had the authority to compel an accounting sua sponte; (3) where an accounting is necessary to determine the status of trust assets, the court may order one on its own accord pursuant to the court’s duty to supervise the trust administration; (4) in this case there were substantial reasons for the court to seek to review the trustee’s actions, including claims by Kimball that Christie had removed $129,000 from the trust account and statements by Christie that the trust assets had been depleted; and (5) therefore, the court could reasonably conclude that an accounting was necessary to track trust assets and it was appropriate for the court to order an accounting.