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11.104A.020  <<  11.104A.030 >>   11.104A.040

RCW 11.104A.030

Judicial control of discretionary powers.

(a) A court shall not change a fiduciary's decision to exercise or not to exercise a discretionary power conferred by this chapter unless it determines that the decision was an abuse of the fiduciary's discretion. A court shall not determine that a fiduciary abused its discretion merely because the court would have exercised the discretion in a different manner or would not have exercised the discretion.

     (b) The decisions to which subsection (a) of this section apply include:

     (1) A determination under RCW 11.104A.020 (a) or (e) of whether and to what extent an amount should be transferred from principal to income or from income to principal.

     (2) A determination of: (i) The factors that are relevant to the trust or estate and its beneficiaries; (ii) the extent to which they are relevant; and (iii) the weight, if any, to be given to the relevant factors, in deciding whether and to what extent to exercise the power conferred by RCW 11.104A.020 (a) or (e).

     (3) A determination under RCW 11.104A.040(g).

     (c) If a court determines that a fiduciary has abused its discretion, the remedy is to restore the income and remainder beneficiaries to the positions they would have occupied if the fiduciary had not abused its discretion, according to the following principles:

     (1) To the extent that the abuse of discretion has resulted in no distribution to a beneficiary or a distribution that is too small, the court may require the fiduciary to distribute from the trust to the beneficiary an amount that the court determines will restore the beneficiary, in whole or in part, to his or her appropriate position.

     (2) To the extent that the abuse of discretion has resulted in a distribution to a beneficiary that is too large, the court may restore the beneficiaries, the trust, or both, in whole or in part, to their appropriate positions by requiring the fiduciary to withhold an amount from one or more future distributions to the beneficiary who received the distribution that was too large or requiring that beneficiary to return some or all of the distribution to the trust.

     (3) To the extent that the court does not restore under (1) and (2) of this subsection the beneficiaries, the trust, or both, to the positions they would have occupied if the fiduciary had not abused its discretion, the court may require the fiduciary to pay an appropriate amount from its own funds to one or more of the beneficiaries or the trust, or both. The fiduciary has no liability under this section unless the beneficiary alleging the abuse of discretion establishes that the fiduciary did not exercise its discretion in good faith and with honest judgment.

     (d) Upon a petition by the fiduciary, the court having jurisdiction over the trust or estate shall determine whether a proposed exercise or nonexercise by the fiduciary of a discretionary power conferred by the act will result in an abuse of the fiduciary's discretion. If the petition describes the proposed exercise or nonexercise of the power and contains sufficient information to inform the beneficiaries of the reasons for the proposal, the facts upon which the fiduciary relies, and an explanation of how the income and remainder beneficiaries will be affected by the proposed exercise or nonexercise of the power, a beneficiary who challenges the proposed exercise or nonexercise has the burden of establishing that it will result in an abuse of discretion.

     (e) The fiduciary shall be reimbursed for any and all costs, including without limitation all attorneys' fees and costs of defense, and all liabilities that the fiduciary may incur in connection with any claim or action relating in any way to the fiduciary's exercise of its discretion under this chapter, except to the extent that the beneficiary establishes that the fiduciary did not exercise its discretion in good faith and with honest judgment. All attorneys' fees and costs shall be advanced to the fiduciary as incurred and shall only be collected from the fiduciary after it has been determined that the fiduciary did not exercise its discretion in good faith and with honest judgment.

[2002 c 345 § 105.]