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Probate

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This decision holds that (1) a probate court does not have inherent equitable power to award attorney fees except from a beneficiary's share of a trust or estate involved in the litigation, but (2) Probate Code 15642(d), the court may award attorney fees against a party payable from his personal assets for filing a bad faith petition to remove a… Read More

Under Probate Code 145, a spouse waives his or her interest in the other spouse's estate by entering into "a complete property settlement agreement after or in contemplation of a separation, dissolution or annulment of their marriage."  This decision holds that to operate as such a waiver, the settlement agreement need not recite that it waives that right nor that… Read More

World Services holds intellectual property rights in Narcotics Anonymous' publications as trustee under a trust created by a loose association of Narcotics Anonymous adherents, known as the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.  The Autonomous Region sued World Services claiming it breached its fiduciary duties under the trust.  This opinion affirms dismissal of the action on the ground that Autonomous Region lacks… Read More

Appeals from probate orders did not automatically stay the parties' ability to settle their dispute.  Even though their settlement required dismissal of the pending appeals, the settlement was effective and did not violate the automatic stay on appeal under CCP 916. Read More

Under Prob. Code 1003, a court may, but is not required to, appoint a guardian ad litem for minors named as parties in the action. If the court doesn't appoint a guardian, it must itself protect the minor's interests.  Here, a guardian ad litem was appointed for the minors in related litigation, but not in this proceeding.  The guardian ad… Read More

If a trust provides a procedure or method for amending the trust, whether phrased as exclusive or optional, any amendment must conform to that procedure or method; otherwise it is invalid.  Prob. Code 15402’s “qualification ‘[u]nless the trust instrument provides otherwise’ indicates that if any modification method is specified in the trust, that method must be used to amend the… Read More

The California Department of Health Care Services administers the MediCal program. For purpose of computing a person's financial ability to pay for medical care during his lifetime, the department omits the worth of his residence.  However, after the person's death, the department is entitled to collect reimbursement for medical care it paid for during the person's lifetime from the person's… Read More

Plaintiff was the executrix as well as a beneficiary of her parents' estate. She claimed that a relative and co-beneficiary conspired with two other defendants to fraudulently induce her, as executrix, to take a large loan at usurious rates secured by the parents' house, the estate's principal asset, after which the co-beneficiary misappropriated most of the loan funds.  This decision… Read More

A fiduciary owes a duty to disclose material facts to the beneficiary.  The beneficiary is under no duty to investigate whether the fiduciary has told the truth or disclosed all the material facts.  Hence, when a conservatee moves to set aside an order approving the conservator's accounting on the ground of misrepresentations in the conservator's accounting and petition for approval,… Read More

An order settling the account of a fiduciary is appealable.  (Prob. Code 1300(b).)  Ordinarily, an order denying a motion to vacate an order settling the fiduciary's account is not appealable so as to avoid giving a party two appeals from the same order.  However, here, the conservator's misrepresentations in the accounting prevented the conservatee from fully litigating the accounting and… Read More

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