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PROBATE 9: Probate court disallowed trustee travel expenses.

In this case, John a beneficiary and a former trustee of the Trust, argues that the probate court erred by disallowing his claimed travel expenses.  John argues that the probate court erred by disallowing his travel expenses because Gary, his brother, recovered travel expenses in an earlier accounting.

MCL 700.7111(1) provides that interested persons may enter into a binding nonjudicial settlement agreement with respect to any matter involving a trust, including the approval of a trustee’s report or accounting. John concedes that all interested persons agreed to allow Gary reimbursement for the expenses of traveling. The parties did not reach an agreement regarding John’s claimed travel expenses in the subsequent accounting at issue. Further, the probate court found that John’s travel expenses were incurred only for John’s own benefit. The agreement to allow Gary’s travel expenses in an earlier accounting does not necessarily mean that the probate court was required to approve John’s travel expenses claimed in a later accounting. Therefore, John’s contention that the probate court acted inconsistently with regard to travel expenses is devoid of merit.

John further asserts that the probate court ignored the Trust, which states that each Trustee is entitled to reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses and may receive reasonable compensation for services performed. The probate court’s finding that John’s travel expenses were solely necessitated by his relocation to Florida and were only incurred for John’s benefit implies that John’s claimed travel expenses were not reasonable. John identifies no basis for concluding that his travel expenses could be deemed “reasonable” under the Trust provision in light of the probate court’s findings. In sum, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by not permitting John to recover claimed travel expenses.

Trusts are one of the most commonly used estate planning documents and can serve a variety of purposes. We offer comprehensive guidance throughout the probate process, including distribution of assets to beneficiaries. We also have experience with litigating probate matters.

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