(Super. Ct. No. SPR-5452)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nicholson , J.
California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
Defendant Sidney B. Dunmore appeals from the trial court's determination that his mother, trustee of various family trusts, may assign to his brother, Steven Dunmore, legal claims the trusts have against his, Sidney B. Dunmore's, sons. Rejecting defendant's arguments, we conclude the assignment is supported by sufficient consideration and does not constitute a breach of fiduciary duties. We affirm the judgment.
Our statement of facts is derived from the verified petition which initiated this matter.
Plaintiff Ruth Dunmore is the trustee and surviving grantor of the Dunmore Family Trust (Family Trust), a trust she and her now deceased husband, George Dunmore, created in 1977. Following George's passing in 2007, and according to the terms of the Family Trust, Ruth allocated the estate into separate trusts. She allocated 50 percent of the trust's assets and liabilities to a Survivor's Trust, and the remaining 50 percent of the assets and liabilities to three other trusts the parties refer to collectively as the Decedent's Trusts.
Ruth is the trustee for all of the trusts. The Survivor's Trust is fully revocable by her. The Decedent's Trusts are irrevocable.
During their lifetimes, Ruth and George guaranteed various bank loans made to their grandsons, Sidney D. Dunmore and Jeremy Dunmore, and the grandsons' company, GSJ Company, LLC (GSJ). The grandsons and GSJ defaulted on more than $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 worth of these loans. Ruth has settled some of these loans but is being sued by various banks for payment of the other loans. The banks' claims, seeking the recovery of millions of dollars, far exceed the value of the Family Trust assets.
Ruth asserts she and the trusts have legal and equitable claims against the grandsons and GSJ. Ruth alleges that, although she and George guaranteed some of these loans, some of the guarantees contain forged signatures, and other guarantees they signed due to undue influence by their grandsons.
Ruth, however, is not in a position to pursue these claims. She was 86 years old when she filed this action in 2009. And she could find no attorney who would enforce the claims on a contingent fee basis. She desires to assign these claims to her son, Steven Dunmore. To effect this assignment, and remembering the Family Trust's interest in these claims was split evenly between the Survivor's Trust and the Decedent's Trusts, Ruth agreed to sell both the Survivor's Trust's interest in the claims and the Decedent's Trusts' interests in the claims to Steven.
Because the Survivor's Trust is revocable and she has full control over that trust's assets, Ruth may sell that trust's interest in the claims against her grandsons and ...