Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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2020 California Case Roundup

By Andrew Gold, Esq.

Barefoot v. Jennings:  The California Supreme Court decides that individuals who claim that trust amendments eliminating their beneficiary status arose from incompetence, undue influence, or fraud have standing to bring a challenge.

California Small Estate Limit Increase 2020: California law updated as of January 1, 2020 classifying a small estate as $166,250 or less, up from $150,000 in 2019.

Placencia v. Strazicich: A decedent’s will can defeat the presumption of a right of survivorship in a joint account.

Roth v. Jelley: A contingent beneficiary’s due process rights were violated when he received no notice or opportunity to be heard with respect to a California probate judgment eliminating his interest in the trust.

Wilkin v. Nelson: Pour-over will conformed to decedent’s actual and specific intent to provide for testamentary control and disposition over only separate, not community, property.

Estate of Ashlock: Double damages under Section 859 of the California Probate Code explained.

Donkin v. Donkin: When a California trustee can and cannot represent themselves in court.

Tubbs v. Berkowitz: A general power of appointment can be used to transfer the entire corpus of a California trust to one person if authorized by the terms of the trust.

Robertson v. Saadat: A donor’s intent controls the disposition of the donor’s sperm after death.

Estate of Eimers: When exercising a power of appointment the power must be specifically referred to as required by the terms of the granting instrument, or the gift is invalid.  The court will not amend or reform the will to include a specific reference to the power in order to preserve the validity of the gift.

Arace v. Medico Investments:  An award of attorney fees is mandatory upon a finding of financial abuse under the California Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act.

Conservatorship of J.Y.: An LPS conservatee has the right not to testify against himself or herself in a conservatorship proceeding.

Cundall v. Mitchell Clyde: The statutory method to revoke a trust under California law can be used unless the trust explicitly provides the exclusive method for revocation.

Rallo v. O’Brian:  A general disinheritance clause defeats an omitted child claim by unknown children born before the execution of the testamentary instrument.

Van Buskirk v. Van Buskirk:  Personal jurisdiction in a California trust dispute obtained over litigants as defendants when they brought multiple lawsuits in California courts and had no problem availing themselves of the jurisdiction of the court as plaintiffs.

Kerkorian:  Establishing paternity after death in California probate court.

Gomez v. Smith:  Decedent’s children from a prior marriage intentionally interfered with the expected inheritance of the decedent’s second wife (surviving spouse).

Chadwick Boseman:  Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died without a will, thus leaving California law to dictate distribution of his intestate estate.

Conservatorship of SA:  Substantial evidence is required to establish that a conservatee is gravely disabled in LPS conservatorship.

Trenk v. Soheili: The community property presumption was not rebutted with respect to a trust deed, and the failure of the spouse to sign the trust deed rendered it voidable.


Andrew S. Gold, Esq.

Probate & Trust Litigation

Hourly & Contingency Fees Available

(650) 450-9600