News & Analysis as of

Probate Code

Mental Capacity Standards in California Civil Litigation

by Downey Brand LLP on

What mental capacity standards apply in California civil litigation? Last month we presented on this subject at the Placer County Bar Association’s annual spring conference in Roseville. I’ll offer highlights here. Short...more

Stepmother vs. Stepchild, Now Playing in a California Probate Court Near You

by Downey Brand LLP on

Stepmothers are frequent characters in California trust and estate litigation, as they are in fairy tales and Disney movies. With about half of all marriages ending in divorce, there are many stepmother/stepchild...more

Trust Beneficiary Permitted to Contest Trust Despite No-Contest Clause

Key Takeaway: In Ginsberg et. al. v. Ginsberg et. al., Judge Leibensperger ruled that a trust beneficiary could assert a trust was procured by fraud despite the presence of a in terrorem or no-contest clause. Judge...more

Executor Can Swing Away at an Omitted Spouse Petition

by Downey Brand LLP on

Born in Fresno, Kirk Kerkorian was an Armenian-American who went on to become a wealthy businessman and philanthropist, known for his role in shaping development in Las Vegas. After Kerkorian died in June 2015 at the age of...more

Florida’s Fiduciary Lawyer-Client Privilege Adopted by the Florida Supreme Court

Last week, the Florida Supreme Court adopted section 90.5021, Fla. Stat. – Florida’s fiduciary lawyer-client privilege – to the extent it is procedural and held that the decision is retroactive to the Florida legislature’s...more

Court Held That Retirement Benefits Belonged To The Worker’s Sister, Who Was Designated Beneficiary, And Not The Wife

by Winstead PC on

In Estate of Gibson, a man named his sister as the beneficiary of his retirement plan in 1989. No. 06-17-00059-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 9963 (Tex. App.—Texarkana October 13, 2017, no pet.)....more

Sacramento Court: Only a Health Care Agent Can Contract for Placement in an RCFE

by Downey Brand LLP on

Incapacity planning is a major component of an estate plan. Quite often people name one person to serve as a health care agent and another person to serve as a financial agent. What role does one agent have as opposed to the...more

2017 Year-End Estate Planning Advisory

by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP on

The fourth quarter of 2017 concludes a unique year in the planning arena. With the new administration and a Republican-led Congress in power, both taxpayers and tax professionals have kept a close eye on the potential for tax...more

Play It Again: No Contest Clauses Must Be Referenced In Each California Trust Amendment

by Downey Brand LLP on

No contest clauses are an ever-evolving area of the probate law in California. The Court of Appeal further refined the rules governing no contest clauses in a decision issued last week, Aviles v. Swearingen (2017) ___...more

Anti-SLAPP Case Features Arm Wrestling Siblings and a Prep School

by Downey Brand LLP on

California’s anti-SLAPP statute has generated another published case for trust and estate lawyers to ponder. Last week, in Urick v. Urick (2017) ___ Cal.App.5th ___, the California Court of Appeal confirmed that anti-SLAPP...more

When Is a Will Valid in California?

by Downey Brand LLP on

Although much wealth passes today through trusts and beneficiary designations, we occasionally handle California probate disputes that turn on the validity of wills, sometimes involving high value estates....more

Take It or Leave It: The Perilous Decision of Whether to Violate a No Contest Clause

by Downey Brand LLP on

One of the most dramatic areas of California trust and estate litigation is no contest clauses. No contest clauses bring a made-for-tv excitement to the practice of trust and estate law because of the risk of...more

Co-Trustee Conflict Fuels California Trust Litigation

by Downey Brand LLP on

California trust litigation often stems from disagreements and hostility among family member co-trustees. Rather than picking one of their kids to serve as sole successor trustee when they die or become incapacitated, Mom and...more

Florida’s Fiduciary Lawyer-Client Privilege is on the Books, But is it Good Law?

In 2011, Florida’s legislature enacted section 90.5021, Fla. Stat., which provides for application of the lawyer-client privilege – even when the client is a fiduciary....more

Court Affirms Finding That Will Was Lost And Not Revoked

by Winstead PC on

In In the Estate of Burrell, a trial court admitted a copy of will to probate, and a contestant appealed. No. 09-14-00345-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 10421 (Tex. App.—Beaumont September 22, 2016, no pet. history). This case was...more

Genealogy And The Corporate Lawyer

by Allen Matkins on

Who is family and how close are they? These aren’t questions that typically occupy the mind of a corporate lawyer. Occasionally, however, consanguinity matters even to a corporate lawyer. Thus, Section 308 of the...more

Court Discusses Slayer Rule in Texas And Affirms Judgment For Bank That Froze Account

by Winstead PC on

Preface to Case: The Texas Constitution states that “[n]o conviction shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture of estate.” Tex. Const. Art. I § 21 (emphasis added). The Texas Estates Code also states as much. Tex. Est....more

Trusts and Estates Group News: Estate Planning Enters the Digital Age

by Murtha Cullina on

One reality of modern life is our increasing reliance on digital information and services. It’s difficult to take and then order prints of photographs, accumulate travel rewards, book travel, sort through financial records,...more

Till Death Do You Part—Wages Of The Dearly Departed

by Seyfarth Shaw LLP on

When an employee dies, employers ask, “Who gets the employee’s wages, and how do I pay them without getting into trouble?” While employers might be tempted to consult the California Labor Code (see discussion of payment of...more

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