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Brothers and sister at odds over mandate of family trusts

Naming a reliable trustee may be the most important decision that a person in Woodland Hills can make after deciding to establish a trust in the first place. That trustee will be endowed with power to oversee much of the management and administration of the trust’s assets and properties. Oftentimes, as a way of balancing out that power, co-trustees may be chosen instead. In such a case, each co-trustee must typically agree on actions that affect the trust. However, that is not to say that there will not be disagreements and disputes amongst those that hold this role.

Such a dispute recently played itself in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The seeds for the dispute were sown in February of this year, when the daughter of the late owner of the Los Angeles Lakers (who now serves as the controlling owner of the franchise) fired her brother as the organization’s vice president of basketball operations during a restructuring of the team’s front office. The two siblings (along with another brother) serve as co-trustees of four family trusts through which a majority ownership of the team is maintained.

After the firing, the two brothers arranged a shareholders meeting in which they attempted to pass a vote appointing a new board of directors for the team which excluded the sister from among the candidates. Such a move would have taken controlling ownership away from her. The sister sought a restraining order to stop the meeting, which the brothers eventually postponed after agreeing to a settlement which forced them to comply with the family trusts’ mandate that they support the sister as the controlling owner.

As this case demonstrates, disputes between trustees can be complicated. Those involved in them may want to enlist the services of an attorney for added assistance.

Source: The Los Angeles Times “Buss family feud over Lakers appears to end with Jeanie as controlling owner” Fenno, Nathan, Mar. 27, 2017

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