Trusts & Estates Bulletin

A Compendium of Recent Cases

  Brought to you by LACBA's Trusts & Estates Section  *  Volume VI, Number 1  *  January 2011 
An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association      Contact Us      Join the T & E Section      Archived Issues

Visit the Trusts and Estates Section Web page.


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 

"Help Us Help You"

You are Invited to Attend a "Brown Bag" Training Session called, "Help Us Help You."

The Court's Probate Attorneys will discuss a broad range of topics, including preparing and submitting orders, appointments in civil courts, Heggstad petitions, accounting issues, gripes and tips, and will answer questions from attendees.

Attendees are encouraged to submit questions by e-mail to

DATE: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
TIME: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Special Events Center (Room 222)
(**Please note that food/beverages are not permitted in the SEC**)

Attendees may pre-register by contacting Erica Leon at LACBA at (213) 896-6421 or

Check-in: Noon – 12:25 p.m

One Hour MCLE Credit-Provided by the Trusts and Estates Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Symposium 2011: Ethics and Planning Pitfalls

All practitioners face ethical dilemmas when handling trust and estate issues. The changing legal landscape governing same-sex couples also presents many potential pitfalls. This symposium will focus on how to meet the ethical challenges that we face every day, and will also cover the unique issues involved in estate and tax planning for both same-sex and heterosexual unmarried couples.

Speakers include:
Richard D. Cleary, Farmer & Ridley, LLP
Thomas Curtiss Jr., Rodi Pollock Pettker Christian & Pramov
Valerie J. Merritt, Calleton Merritt DeFrancisco & Real-Salas LLP
Nicole M. Pearl, McDermott, Will & Emery
Keith S. Walker, Law Offices of Keith S. Walker

Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

To register for this event, click HERE.

Special Announcements 

Well we all knew Sandy Riley would retire sometime. Now it appears the date is 3 to 6 months from now. We have been lucky that she has delayed her retirement as long as she has.

The Court is looking to fill her shoes (good luck!). Perhaps finding someone to grow into her shoes is more likely. Which leads me to a request from the Court to inform our members of their search for a Supervising Probate Attorney.

The search has included the following job posting in the Daily Journal:

Supervising Probate Attorney Superior Court of California, Los Angeles, (Salary: $10,174 - $12,638.64/mo. plus 14.5% of monthly salary to purchase benefits). Primarily responsible for the supervision and management of probate attorneys and examiners. Requires licensed California attorney with eight yrs experience practicing probate law in California courts. APPLY BY: January 18, 2011. Apply online at: or call (213) 974-0036. Resume not accepted without application. EOE

Note the application deadline is January 18, 2011. The contact number for any questions is in the job posting.

Best Practices

Preparer Tax Identification Numbers Are No Longer Optional

The Internal Revenue Service previously provided an alternative to including the social security number of a person preparing a federal tax return.  Rather than provide the preparer's social security number, the preparer could include a Preparer Tax Identification Number ("PTIN").  Further, if the preparer was an employee of a company, only the company's employer identification number was required and the social security number or PTIN was not required.

Beginning January 1, 2011, any attorney signing a tax return must include a Preparer Tax Identification Number ("PTIN") on the return.  The PTIN must be included on all federal tax returns, including estate and gift tax returns. 

The IRS provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding PTINs at,,id=218611,00.html.

The steps for applying for a PTIN are provided at,,id=210909,00.html

Persons preparing tax returns who are not compensated (such as the VITA program) are not governed by these rules.

Find a variety of CLE programs on video.

You can now learn and earn CLE credit anywhere you access the Web.

A Compendium of Recent Cases

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

Trusts and Estates
Where husband executed a modified marital settlement agreement with his ex-wife that provided for continuing support payments to the ex-wife after his death, and husband subsequently remarried, the trial court did not err in holding that real property the husband's widow held with him in joint tenancy could be considered under Probate Code Sec. 13551 in determining the extent of the widow's personal liability to the ex-wife. The scope of a surviving spouse's personal liability encompasses all property which, at the time of a decedent's death, is characterized as community property or the decedent's separate property, regardless of the manner in which title to the property is held.
     Kircher v. Kircher - filed November 4, 2010, First District, Div. Three
    Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 6241
     Full text                                                                                                                     Back to Top  

Trusts and Estates
Where trust provided that "issue" of trustors' child would be beneficiaries, defining "issue" to exclude children who were "adopted into" or "adopted out of" trustors' bloodline, but not to otherwise exclude any biological child, child who was conceived by trustors' son out of wedlock and raised by mother and her husband, but never adopted by the husband, was unambiguously the "issue" of the trustors' son and a beneficiary of the trust.
    Citizens Business Bank v. Carrano - filed November 5, 2010, Second District, Div. Eight     Sixth District
    Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 6310
     Full text                                                                                                                  Back to Top   

Trusts and Estates
Prospective beneficiary of a will could not maintain a cause of action for legal malpractice against the attorney who drafted the will where it was not executed before the testator's death..
    Hall v. Kalfayan - filed December 8, 2010, Second District, Div. Four
    Cite as 2010 S.O.S. 6817
     Full text                                                                                                                      Back to Top

Trusts and Estates
Lack of explicit statement that trust's no-contest clause also applied to subtrusts did not entitle petitioner to a "safe harbor" determination that the clause did not apply, where intent to apply the clause to the subtrusts was implicit in the terms and it was unreasonable--considering the "whole of the trust"--to interpret the clause as inapplicable to the subtrusts. Petition for determination that designated successor trustee for trust was not entitled to appointment as successor trustee for subtrusts was a "contest" because it directly contravened trustor's express directive.
    Fazzi v. Klein - filed December 14, 2010, Fourth District, Div. Three
    Cite as G042684
     Full text                                                                                                                      Back to Top 


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.