Trusts & Estates Bulletin

A Compendium of Recent Cases

  Brought to you by LACBA's Trusts & Estates Section  *  Volume V, Number 2  *  October 2009 
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Case Summaries

Trusts & Estates Bulletin is published monthly by the Trusts & Estates Section, Co-Editors:
- David C. Nelson, Loeb & Loeb LLP,,
- Amy L. McEvoy, Sheppard Mullin,
- Nelson J. Handy, Fiduciary Law Services, Inc.,


Coming Events

3000 Seconds of Life Insurance. Understanding and Evaluating a Policy and a View From the Branch Courts.

  October 29, 2009

Register now.

This program will provide unique insight into understanding and evaluating life insurance policies. Led by Brian Cohen, a former life insurance executive and attorney, the session will cover:

  • the attorney’s duty of care in evaluating a policy;
  • reading and understanding life insurance illustrations;
  • identifying distinctions among different types of life insurance products; and
  • company ratings and market factors in reviewing a policy.

    Tailored for estate planning lawyers, Mr. Cohen will focus on how to quickly evaluate and identify critical issues typically found in a life insurance policy.

    Judge James A. Steele, Van Nuys Superior Court, will share his observations regarding the probate court in Van Nuys.

    Earn 1 hour of CLE credit.


A Compendium of Recent Cases

Cases appear in chronological order, with the oldest case appearing first.

-Trusts and Estates-
Where testator bequeathed estate to her son and daughter and son disinherited his children, trial court abused its discretion in denying petition for an evidentiary hearing on issue of whether son predeceased testator, which would allow his children to take his share from testator’s estate under anti-lapse statute.
     Estate of Lensch - filed August 31, 2009, publication ordered September 9, 2009, First District, Div. Two
     Cite as 2009 SOS 5589
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-Trusts and Estates-
Where bank account contract incorporated California law relating to such agreements except to the extent that the contract explicitly varies from California law, trial court erred in finding such contract was not governed by California’s Multiple-Party Accounts Law absent varying contractual provisions. CAMPAL governs whether a person is a proper party to the account unless the terms of the account vary from CAMPAL’s provisions, and CAMPAL does not deprive account holders of recourse against financial institutions that permit a party to withdraw funds from a multiple-party account when the person is not a proper party to the account pursuant to CAMPAL and the account contract.
     Stevens v. Tri Counties Bank - filed September 1, 2009, Third District
     Cite as 2009 SOS 5340
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-Trusts and Estates-
Where testators instructed that beneficiary’s debt to them be offset against that beneficiary’s distribution, beneficiary's assertion that his debt was not enforceable violated trust’s no-contest provision since beneficiary’s pleading attacked testators’ plans to distribute their property.
     Cook v. Cook - filed September 29, 2009, Second District, Div. Six
     Cite as 2009 SOS 5834
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  -Trusts and Estates-
Neither plain language nor legislative history of Probate Code Sec. 21351 supports judicial creation of a fraud or undue-influence exception to rule that a spouse may receive a donative transfer from a dependent or elder adult.
     Estate of Pryor - filed September 29, 2009, Second District, Div. Four
     Cite as 2009 SOS 5837
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    -Trusts and Estates-
No authority supported objector’s proposition that Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 631.8 does not apply to probate proceedings. Guardianship accountings require the same procedure for filings and objections as conservatorship proceedings. Where trust was specifically created to provide for minor’s "health, maintenance, education, travel, and welfare, and general welfare," minor’s father did not need to exhaust his own resources to provide for minor before dipping into trust assets. Trial court did not abuse its discretion in overruling objection to handling of wrongful death proceeds that funded trust or excluding certain evidence absent any demonstration of error by objector. Totality of facts supported trial court’s finding that objector filed objection in bad faith and without reasonable cause. Probate Code Sec. 2622.5 specifically provides compensation for fees incurred to defend an account from unreasonable objections and does not preclude compensation for costs associated with collecting those fees.
     Guardianship of K.S. - filed September 30, 2009, Sixth District
     Cite as 2009 SOS 5862
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Los Angeles County Bar Association
2009-10 Trusts and Estates Section Newsletter
Amy L. McEvoy, Co-Editor,  David C. Nelson, Co-Editor,    Nelson J. Handy, Co-Editor

Jonathan L. Rosenbloom

Nelson J. Handy

Stuart D. Zimring

Stuart D. Zimring

Immediate Past-Chair
Laura Conti

Section Administrator
Elise Green


Michael A. Abraham
Jackson Chen
Susan J. Cooley
Kenneth A. Feinfield
Sibylle Grebe
Samuel D. Ingham III
Susan Jabkowski
Jane E. Kwon
Jamie Lee Kim

Kira S. Masteller
Amy L. McEvoy
Matthew W. Mc Murtrey
Nicole M. Pearl
Jacqueline Real-Salas
David P. Schwartz
Leigh A. Shipp
Gabrielle A. Vidal

Barristers Liaison, Laura Narimatsu Wasserman
Liaison Beverly Hills Bar Association, Trudi Sabel Schindler
Liaison Public Interest, Yolande P. Erickson
Ex Officio, James R. Birnberg
Ex Officio, Thomas H. Kenney
Ex Officio, Gary M. Ruttenberg

Readers are advised that changes in the law may affect the accuracy of this publication or the functionality of links after the publication date.
The foregoing practice tips were prepared for information purposes only.  Such practice tips do not constitute tax, legal or other advice and no responsibility is assumed for any reliance upon them or with respect to assessing or advising the reader as to tax, legal, or other consequences arising from a particular situation. The accuracy of the information provided should be independently verified by the reader and should not be treated as authoritative.