Appellant beneficiary sought review of orders

Appellant beneficiary sought review of orders

Appellant beneficiary sought review of orders from the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco (California), which, after finding that respondent executor had breached his fiduciary duty by unreasonably delaying the distribution of two estates, rejected many of the beneficiary’s claims for damages; found that laches barred any claims for nonstatutory damages; and amended the earlier final distribution order in one of the estates.

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Overview

The beneficiary’s counsel contacted the executor almost 10 years after the final distribution order and obtained the funds. The probate court surcharged the executor for bond premiums attributable to the unreasonable delay, for interest thereon, and for his compensation as to one estate. The court held that judgment interest was not available because a distribution claim under Prob. Code, § 11700, was not for money damages and a final distribution order was not a money judgment under Code Civ. Proc., § 680.270. Interest was properly charged pursuant to Prob. Code, §§ 9601, subd. (a)(1), 9602, on the bond premiums based on a loss of value; however, no interest could be recovered on amounts that could have been invested because the executor had no statutory duty to invest estate funds. Prejudgment interest under Civ. Code, § 3287, was not available because the beneficiary had no claim for damages as defined in Civ. Code, § 3281, and there was no contract. The case law did not require interest. Substantial evidence supported the laches ruling, which was within the probate court’s authority under Prob. Code, § 800. Amending the distribution order to vacate a void portion was proper.

Outcome

The court affirmed the probate orders.