Under Prob. Code 550-555, a plaintiff may sue the estate of a decedent to prove that the decedent was liable for an obligation covered by his insurance.  Though the plaintiff must name the decedent’s estate as the defendant, the true party in interest is the decedent’s insurer since it controls the litigation and is solely liable for any judgment entered in the action.  This decision holds that while the insurer is technically not a named party in the action, it is “a party” sufficiently to be liable for enhanced cost recovery under CCP 998 if the insurer does not accept the plaintiff’s 998 offer and the judgment is more favorable to the plaintiff.  Also, despite Prob. Code 554 which limits recovery in such an action to the limits of the decedent’s insurance policy, the 998 costs are recoverable in addition to policy limits.

California Court of Appeal, Third District (Blease, Acting P.J.); November 29, 2018; 29 Cal. App. 5th 616