Trusts & Estates Bulletin

A Compendium of Recent Cases

  Brought to you by LACBA's Trusts & Estates Section   *  Volume III, Number 6 * November 2007  *  Contact Us  *  Join the T & E Section  *  Archived Issues


Trusts & Estates Bulletin is published monthly by the Trusts & Estates Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA).

David C. Nelson,
Loeb & Loeb LLP, Editor


>(Cases appear in chronological order, with the oldest cases appearing first.) 
County’s determination that an assessable change in ownership occurred for purposes of Proposition 13 created a pure question of law as to which taxpayer was not required to exhaust administrative remedies. Revenue and Taxation Code Sec. 4807, which prohibits actions to prevent or enjoin the collection of taxes, does not bar declaratory action by taxpayer seeking a determination that taxpayer is entitled to a refund of taxes paid. Conveyance of a life estate is not a transfer "substantially equal to the value of the fee interest" and thus does not cause a change in ownership for purposes of Proposition 13. State Board of Equalization’s contrary rule is clearly inconsistent with statute and not entitled to deference.
     Steinhart v. County of Los Angeles - filed September 28, 2007, Second District, Div. Three
     Cite as 2007 SOS 6047
     Full text 

State Board of Equalization Rule 462.240(k) excluding certain real property transfers between registered domestic partners from definition of phrase "change in ownership," which triggers assessment of ad valorem tax, is not unconstitutional. Legislature possesses power to define phrase under Proposition 13 and ratified rule by similarly amending Family Code and Revenue and Taxation Code. Proposition 58 does not require a constitutional amendment to expand definition of phrase to include transfers between parties other than married spouses; it merely prevents legislature from including transfers between married spouses within definition of the phrase absent a constitutional amendment.
     Strong v. State Board of Equalization - filed October 2, 2007, Third District
     Cite as 2007 SOS 6087
     Full text

-Trusts and Estates-
Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act provisions directing that a legal representative’s objection to a proposed community placement be resolved by an administrative fair hearing procedure followed by superior court review if the conservator, or another party, remains dissatisfied with the result are exclusive and jurisdictional. Superior court lacked jurisdiction to conduct an original proceeding with regard to placement of conservatee where purported basis for such jurisdiction was settlement agreement entered into by state in a federal court action to which conservator was not a party, and where such proceeding was conducted in violation of Lanterman Act. Where judicial proceedings were conducted over conservator’s objections and in violation of Lanterman Act, conservator was entitled to have placement process recommenced on remand.
     Conservatorship of Whitley - filed October 10, 2007, First District, Div. Four
     Cite as 2007 SOS 6158
     Full text 

-Trusts and Estates-
Beneficiary’s appeal of probate court’s ruling under Probate Code Sec. 21320 that proposed petition would constitute a contest to trust was timely where beneficiary appealed probate court’s decision on second application more than 60 days after ruling on first application because second application differed materially from first, and beneficiary could not have appealed as to issues decided in second ruling by filing appeal from first ruling. Beneficiary did not waive right to appeal probate court’s ruling by simultaneously proceeding with petition to recover from trustee’s attorney that reflected claims for relief that probate court held would not implicate no-contest clause in trust. Beneficiary’s notation in trial court action that certain allegations were stricken pursuant to court order did not constitute waiver of appeal with respect to decision to strike allegations. Beneficiary’s filing of second proposed petition did not violate trust's no-contest clause because it sought only to impose liability on trustees for alleged breach of fiduciary duty for improper disbursements during their trusteeship and did not seek to void, nullify, or set aside portion of trust limiting liability of successor trustees. Doctrine of conclusiveness of pleadings applies to filed pleadings but has no application to pleadings proposed to be filed under Sec. 21320. Beneficiary’s second proposed petition did not seek to void, nullify, or set aside portion of trust that gave trustee obligation to account only to trustor during her lifetime because petition did not seek accounting but sought only to impose liability for alleged breach of fiduciary duty.
     Betts v. City National Bank - filed October 19, 2007, Fourth District, Div. One
     Cite as 2007 SOS 6300
     Full text 

-Trusts and Estates-
Trust beneficiary, whose formal objections to trustee’s distribution petition created issue of fact to be adjudicated by court, was entitled to conduct discovery relevant to those objections. Beneficiary who claimed co-beneficiaries had stolen funds from trust estate was not required to file petition under Probate Code Sec. 850 to establish entitlement to an offset against accused co-beneficiaries’ shares of trust estate because beneficiary did not actually seek order transferring funds to her or to the estate.
     Mota v. Superior Court (Villalobos) - filed October 22, 2007, Fourth District, Div. Three
     Cite as 2007 SOS 6329
     Full text 

Where defendant's judgment of conviction for first degree murder is on appeal, it is not a final judgment of conviction of felonious and intentional killing under Probate Code Sec. 254(a) that deprives the defendant, pursuant to Sec. 252, of any benefit under a contract insuring the life of the deceased. Where judgment of conviction is not rebutted by any evidence that defendant did not feloniously and intentionally murder the insured, it constitutes sufficient evidence under Probate Code Sec. 254(b) for a court to determine that a killing was felonious and intentional for the purpose of applying Sec. 252. A felony conviction on appeal is a final judgment adjudging a person guilty of a crime punishable as a felony for the purposes of Evidence Code Sec. 1300's exception to the hearsay rule, and a conviction for first degree murder is prima facie evidence of a felonious and intentional killing.
     Principal Life Insurance Company v. Peterson - filed October 31, 2007, Fifth District
     Cite as 2007 SOS 6447
     Full text