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Coming Event
Save the Date
Did You Know?
Special Announcements
Court News
Recent Cases
The Trusts and Estates Bulletin is published monthly by the Trusts and Estates Section, coeditors:

Jana Gordon Garrotto
Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin LLP

Stefanie S. Cutler
Bloom & Ruttenberg

Richard A. Luftman
Richard A. Luftman, Attorney at Law

Roseann DeRosa
Law Office of Roseann DeRosa

Trusts and Estates Executive Committee:

William L. Winslow, Chair
Matthew W. McMurtrey, Vice-Chair
Julia L. Birkel, Secretary
Trudi Schindler, Immediate Past Chair

Denise T. Ambrosio
Aurora Basa
Susan Ellen Barlevav
Stefanie S. Cutler
Roseann DeRosa
Zachary Dresben
Yolande P. Erickson
Jana Gordon Garrotto
Sibylle Grebe
Duncan Hromadka
Stephen M. Lowe
Richard A. Luftman
Albert F. Mikulencak
Leigh Shipp Muniz
Mary L. O'Neill
John E. Rogers, Jr
Marc L. Sallus
Donald Scoggins

Ex Officio Members:
James R. Birnberg
Susan Jabkowski
Kira S. Masteller
Amy L. McEvoy
Jonathan L. Rosenbloom
Stuart David Zimring

Coming Event
April 14, 2016

Speaker: Marc Sallus and Commissioner Brenda Penny
Location: Special Events Center (Old Department 1, Room 222)

Guardians Ad Litem ("GALs") are playing an increasingly frequent role in civil and probate matters, adversarial and otherwise. Our speakers (Marc Sallus and a Probate Judicial Officer) will discuss what a GAL is, who can act as a GAL and the nature and scope of a GAL's duties...

Please click here for more information
Save the Date
Trusts and Estates Reception
May 16, 2016

More information to follow

Did You Know?

Did you know ...Judge Barry posts tentative rulings on law and motion to the LASC court website. Access to the tentative rulings are found in the Civil Case portal. Either type in your case number or select Stanley Mosk Courthouse: Dept. 67 and the date of your hearing.

Did you know ...if you file a Supplement less than 4-5 days prior to the hearing you are requested to submit a courtesy copy of the Supplement to the department.

Did you know ...the new case management system is going live May 2, 2016. As a result the probate department is going dark on April 28 and 29, 2016 to transition to the new system. All matters set in the probate departments on (those dates) will be reset by the respective departments to a later date. In addition, from April 20-May 6, 2016 all departments will have light calendars.

Special Announcements

Dear Trusts and Estates Listserve Members:

The Court Liaison Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section Executive Committee meets bimonthly with Presiding Judge Stratton to discuss the status of the probate courts and to provide input regarding the needs of the attorneys who practice in the probate courts.  In all of those meetings, Judge Stratton has been forthcoming as to the problems with which she is dealing and receptive to ideas from those of us who meet with her. 

Judge Stratton is aware and concerned about the delays in initial hearing dates.  One of the current causes of delay is the implementation of a Case Management System for the probate courts which is scheduled to be operating by April or May.  As part of the implementation, the court has reviewed and closed approximately 10,000 cases which have had no hearing date in the last eighteen months.  Commissioner Penny is supervising the review and is sending out OSCs as necessary to make the determination if cases are actually completed. 

Also, when the branch courts were consolidated into Central LA, the data was on six separate operating systems which could not be integrated.  Therefore, once the Case Management System is operating, there should be greater efficiency in the courts which should reduce the delays.

Commissioner Penny now has a courtroom so that more matters can be set directly in her courtroom.  Judge Stratton also is considering whether increasing the limit on new filings per day per department will reduce the delays.

We have also explored with Judge Stratton the possibility of streamlining the current ex parte procedures.  In particular, we have discussed something similar to the Orange County system so that the ex parte applications would be filed by a certain time on the day before the ex parte hearing, which would allow additional time for the probate attorneys to review the applications and likely reduce the waiting time on the day of the hearing.

The Executive Committee is well along in the process of preparing a survey to obtain members' input regarding various facets of the Probate Court's operations, including probate notes, ex partes, the Voluntary Settlement Conference program, and other topics.  The survey is being developed to expand communication between practitioners and the court.  We hope to have it out to the members in the next month or two.

One more comment of a historical nature.  The Executive Committee's relationship with previous Presiding Judges has been good for many years, but Judge Stratton has devoted more time to meetings with the Court Liaison Committee than any of her recent predecessors. 

Any suggestions with regard to delays which members of the section have can be communicated to Stephen Lowe, chair of the Court Liaison Committee.  Please send those suggestions to

Stephen M. Lowe, Chair William L. Winslow, Chair
Court Liaison Committee Trusts and Estates Section
Court News

Congratulations to Rob Wada on being selected as a Commissioner. As of March 28, 2016 Commissioner Wada will be assigned to the Dependency Court.

Click here for Notice to Attorneys re LASC to relocate some court operations to US District Court in 2017

Recent Cases
Civil Procedure

For diversity jurisdiction purposes, the citizenship of a real estate investment trust was that of its members, including its shareholders. There was no record of those shareholders' citizenship, so diversity was not proved.

Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods, Inc. - filed March 7, 2016
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 14-1382_d18f
Full text click here


No precedent supports the disqualification of a lawyer for potential ethical violations when the client wishes to continue being represented and the moving party cannot demonstrate it would be harmed by the continued representation.

In re Marriage of Murchison - filed March 17, 2016,
Second District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1387
Full text click here

Constitutional Law

Full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution required courts in one state to respect an adoption judgment rendered by the courts of another state. The judgment appeared on its face to have been issued by a court with jurisdiction, and there was no established law of the state where judgment was rendered to the contrary.

V.L. v. E.L. - filed March 7, 2016
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 15-648_d1
Full text click here

Healthcare Law

Medical Board of California, which subpoenaed privileged patient progress notes in connection with its investigation of alleged sex between a psychiatrist and a patient, failed to demonstrate that its need for the notes outweighed the privilege. The sexual relationship was provable without the notes.

Kirchmeyer v. Phillips - filed March 28, 2016, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1623
Full text click here

Labor and Employment Law

Action by heirs or successors of former judges, alleging that retirement system underpaid benefits due during those judges' lifetimes, was time-barred where all of the former judges died more than 10 years before the action was filed.

Staniforth v. The Judges' Retirement System - filed March 14, 2016, publication ordered March 29, 2016,
Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1627
Full text click here

Real Property

Substantial evidence supported a city council's determination that a property appraiser was "independent" even though he was paid by the property owner to do the appraisal. The appraiser testified that the property owner did not direct his work or dictate the outcome of his appraisal, and his fee was not based on the outcome of his appraisal. Absent an express provision to the contrary, a city ordinance requiring an "independent" property appraisal could not be construed as requiring a potentially complex method for selecting an appraiser, rather than simply any qualified "independent" appraiser.

San Diegans for Open Government v. City of San Diego - filed March 2, 2016, publication ordered March 16, 2016,
Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1373
Full text click here


Allegations that defendant hospital operator committed elder abuse by violating California Code of Regulations, Title 22, Sec. 71225(c), requiring "[a] sufficient number of appropriate personnel [to] be provided for the safety of the patients" in an acute psychiatric hospital, and Sec. 71215(c)(2), which mandates "[s]ufficient registered nursing personnel" to provide "direct nursing care based on patient need," were sufficient to plead the recklessness element of a claim for elder abuse.

Fenimore v. Regents of University of California - filed March 9, 2016, publication ordered March 28, 2016,
Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1600
Full text click here

Trusts and Estates

Trial court's division of trust residuary based on what the parties referred to as the "changing fraction method," the effect of which was that the beneficiaries' fractional interests would be revalued and changed from the original equal allocations to each, was error. The use of such method was not provided for in the language of the trust and was inconsistent with the trustor's intent as shown by extrinsic evidence.

Ammerman v. Callender - filed March 23, 2016,
Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1492
Full text click here


Trial court erred by reappointing public guardian as conservator for a gravely disabled mentally ill woman without advising conservatee of her right to a jury trial and not obtaining her on-the-record personal waiver of that right without a finding that she lacked the capacity to make a jury waiver.

Conservatorship of Heather W. - filed March 2, 2016,
Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2016 S.O.S. 1216
Full text click here


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