Trusts & Estates Bulletin

A Compendium of Recent Cases

  Brought to you by LACBA's Trusts & Estates Section  *  Volume V, Number 11  *  July-September 2010 
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Case Summaries



Trusts & Estates Bulletin is published monthly by the Trusts & Estates Section, coeditors:

--Amy L. McEvoy, Sheppard Mullin,
--Nelson J. Handy, Fiduciary Law Services, Inc.,
--Diane Park, Weinstock Manion Reismon Shore & Neumann,



Coming Events

September 29, 2010 PVP Brown Bag Lunch. Earn 1 hour of general CLE credit, including Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Legal Specialization Credit

October 23, 2010 2010 Aviva K. Bobb Advanced PVP Attorney Training Symposium. Earn 4.5 hours of estate planning and trust and probate law legal specialization credit, including ethics credit.


Top Ten Best Practices

At our recent View From the Bench, Judge Reva G. Goetz presented to us with a compilation of the 2010 Top Ten Practices (with a few extra thrown in for good measure).

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A Compendium of Recent Cases

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

Trusts and Estates
Under Brother who alleged his sister and brother-in-law interfered with his expected inheritance by unduly influencing their mother to sign a codicil to her will that gave $1,000,000 each to sister’s children could not bring a cause of action in tort because he had an adequate remedy in probate.
     Munn v. Briggs, filed June 10, 2010, Fourth District, Div. One
     Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 3153
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Trusts and Estates
Under Civil action alleging defendants breached their duties as trustees and seeking an injunction to compel defendants to produce an account--in an action in which the existence of a trust was in dispute--was not a contest of a trustee’s account within the meaning of Probate Code Sec. 17211(b), which authorizes recovery of attorney fees by a beneficiary who brings such a contest if the trustee unreasonably opposes the contest.
     Soria v. Soria, filed June 14, 2010, Fourth District, Div. Three
     Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 3245
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Trusts and Estates
Trust beneficiary's learning that he was a grandchild of trustor did not place him on notice of a possible interest in the trust prior to his learning of the trust's existence. Allegations that petitioner was a grandchild of trustor and thus within the class of persons designated as beneficiaries, that he learned of the trust only when advised of its existence by a family member less than three years prior to bringing petition, and that trustee knew petitioner was a beneficiary of the trust yet made trust distributions that did not include him were sufficient to plead a claim for breach of trust that was timely under the delayed discovery provision of Probate Code Sec. 16460(a)(2), limiting to three years the time in which a trust beneficiary may sue the trustee for breach of trust or failure to account or report. Trustee could not, on demurrer, rely on probate order for final distribution as barring petitioner's subsequent claim where petition alleged that trustee defrauded petitioner by withholding distributions she knew he was entitled to, nor could trustee rely on laches where petition sufficiently alleged that she acted with unclean hands.
     Quick v. Pearson, filed June 14, 2010, publication ordered July 1, 2010, Second District, Div. Three
     Cite as B215277
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Trusts and Estates
Where donative transfer was allegedly made in violation of Probate Code Sec. 21350--which imposes restrictions on the making of such transfers to certain categories of beneficiaries, including one who has a fiduciary relationship with the donor--and the transfer became irrevocable while the donor was still alive, administrator of donor’s estate had three years from the date he became apprised of the relevant facts in which to bring an action to set aside the transfer.
     Estate of Hastie, filed July 22, 2010, First District, Div. Two
     Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 4208
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Trusts and Estates
District court did not err in granting summary judgment to trustees of Hawaii state agency that administered a portion of a public trust created, along with four other purposes, to benefit native Hawaiians in suit by native Hawaiians because federal law did not oblige the trustees to use proceeds only for native Hawaiians. Where trust gave trustees broad discretion to serve its purposes, the district court properly found that challenged expenditures were sufficiently directed to one or more trust purposes to fall within the range of permissible spending. State’s spending of far more money each year on public education--one of the enumerated trust purposes--than it received from the trust did not deprive any beneficiary of standing to bring a claim for breach of trust for lack of injury.
     Day v. Apoliona, filed July 26, 2010
     Cite as 08-16704
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Trusts and Estates
Where decedent failed to execute paperwork to establish a security account, a nonprobate transfer of the assets that decedent intended to deposit cannot be found based upon the mere evidence that decedent had the paperwork prepared and had orally instructed the broker’s staff about the paperwork. Putative beneficiary’s allegations that decedent registered one securities account in beneficiary form, then subsequently transferred the funds to another account, and that petitioner was "informed, believes and thereon alleges the P.O.D. terms (or, alternatively, the Totten trust terms) were maintained as part of the transfer to" the second broker, were sufficient to survive demurrer because it was possible that the second broker, as a matter of policy, treated the transfer as satisfying the requirement of registration in beneficiary form under the Uniform TOD Security Registration Act.
     Estate of Gardner, filed August 11, 2010, Fifth District
     Cite as F058001
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Trusts and Estates
Where homeowner and neighbor agreed in writing that homeowner would convey his residence to neighbor upon homeowner'sdeath in consideration for services to be provided during homeowner's lifetime, neighbor's claim to the house arose from an agreement for distribution from an estate, and was time-barred under Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 366.3 where brought more than one year after homeowner's death. Neighbor's alternative quantum meruit claim for value of services rendered was barred by Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 366.2 where not brought withinone year after homeowner's death.
     Estate of Ziegler, filed August 31, 2010, Fourth District, Div. Two
     Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 5279
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Los Angeles County Bar Association
2010-11 Trusts and Estates Section Newsletter
Amy L. McEvoy, Co-Editor,  David C. Nelson, Co-Editor,    Nelson J. Handy, Co-Editor

Nelson J. Handy

Stuart D. Zimring

Kira S. Masteller

Kira S. Masteller

Immediate Past-Chair
Jonathan L. Rosenbloom

Section Administrator
Erica Leon


Michael A. Abraham
Ronald Berman
Jackson Chen
Kenneth A. Feinfield
Sibylle Grebe
Susan Jabkowski
Jane E. Kwon
Amy L. McEvoy
Diane Young Park

Nicole M. Pearl
Jacqueline Real-Salas
Myer J. Sankary
Leigh A. Shipp
Gabrielle A. Vidal
Caroline C. Vincent
William Lane Winslow

Liaison Beverly Hills Bar Association, Trudi Sabel Schindler
Liaison Public Interest, Yolande P. Erickson
Ex Officio, Laura Conti
Ex Officio, James R. Birnberg
Ex Officio, Thomas H. Kenney
Ex Officio, Matthew W. McMurtrey
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.