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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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My husband and I were awarded guardianship of a minor two years

Customer Question

My husband and I were awarded guardianship of a minor two years ago who was removed from the custodial parent's care due to neglect and abuse. Long before this, the child was awarded some money ($13k seven years ago) when he was hit by a car. He was not hurt, just bruised and scratched but the custodial parent saw dollar signs. Since the injured party was a minor, the judge put the money in a trust account with the custodial parent as trustee (if that is the correct term). Years later after the child was removed by CPS and there was a dependency case, the court appointed attorney asked the dependency judge to appoint her to represent the child in civil court to have the trustee changed from the bio parent to us, his grandparents, or an independent third party. The judge complied. Neither my husband and I nor the child know where this money is or anything about it. The attorney was also going to request the court to have the money moved to an education account. If the money is not moved to an education account, the child will not be eligible for benefits under AB12 when he is 18. The attorney dropped the ball. When we finally got hold of her, she consulted a civil law colleague who told her the trustee could not be changed unless there was mismanagement of funds. The bio parent has one hour of supervised visitation per month, so he is not actively involved in the child's life. Is the attorney correct? This seems illogical since the bio parent is not responsible for the child's care nor any decisions regarding the child, and was deemed unfit to make such decisions.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.
I am afraid that the attorney is correct, but up to a point. Let me explain as to what I mean:
Please keep in mind that being a trustee and being a parent are somewhat different, even if this is about being a trustee over the minor's account. Being a trustee is akin to being the president of a company--typically the officer is not removed unless there is good cause to do so, for example embezzlement or misappropriation of funds. But that is not the only way to remove--if the person is neglecting duties, likewise a petition can be made to remove. Now, a trust typically has to file taxes annually just to prove activity, and if that wasn't done it can be seen as a breach of fiduciary duty and therefore neglect...and therefore grounds for removal.
Dimitry, Esq.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The father has been shown to not have his son's best interests at heart, and a therapist has said she does not think he knows how to do that. In addition, when the money was awarded, dad said he was disappointed the judge put the money in his son's name, because he wanted it to come to him. Then he turned to his son and said "When you are 18, you are going to turn it right over to me so I can invest it for you." Please understand, this is not a good person, hence the removal of both his children from his care. Since the original dependency judge appointed the minor's attorney to pursue this in civil court, shouldn't she be investigating the terms of the trust, and checking to see if dad has filed tax returns? We can;t even get her to return our calls. Also, the minor will not be eligible for extended benefits under CA AB12 if he receives money at 18, unless the money is put into an education account first.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up.
I definitely understand that this is not a good person--your first post made that very clear, and I likewise empathize with you and the child's position. But the trust, or terms of it, are not the issue--as far as checking whether or not anything is filed you can, as the child's guardian, file on behalf of the child with that court and find out if returns were placed on file. if not, you'd have a basis to demand that the trustee be removed and a new one appointed.
Dimitry, Esq.