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Upcoming Events
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Court News
Recent Cases


The Trusts and Estates eBulletin
is published monthly by the Trusts and Estates Law Section, coeditors:

Jana G. Garrotto
Lewitt Hackman

Stefanie S. Cutler
Ruttenberg Cutler Broomer, LLP

Jessica G. Gordon
Thompson Coburn LLP

Julie Birkel
Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Trusts and Estates Executive Committee Officers:

Jana G. Garrotto, Chair
Deborah Keesey, Vice-Chair
Susan Barlevav Devermont, Secretary & Treasurer
Stefanie S. Cutler, Immediate Past Chair


Upcoming Events

2021 Probate Minor’s Counsel Training Program

Date: April 10, 2021, 10:00 a.m.—1:00 p.m.

Location: Live Webinar

Description: Because of the ongoing public health crisis, LACBA’s 2021 Probate Minor’s Counsel Training Program will be offered virtually, as an ON-DEMAND webinar. The program is available for purchase now. Registrants will have up to 30 days after purchase to complete the program.

Please join us for a program for those new to Probate Guardianship as minor’s counsel and those seasoned practitioners. Note that this is a required program for those practitioners who want to serve as Minor’s Counsel in the Probate arena.

More information: Click Here
Click here to purchase: CLE Store purchase link

Where's the 'Fun' in Dysfunctional Families? Interactive Case Studies

Date: April 22, 2021, 4:00 p.m.—5:30 p.m.

Location: Webinar

Description: Through three (3) interactive case studies, this panel demonstrates how Professional Fiduciaries can team up with an Aging Life Care Managertm and trusted counsel to develop solutions to tricky family situations. The team will address how best to “wow” and persuade the judge to implement their solutions. The case studies will be derived from the practices and experiences of the panel and made interactive through multiple choice questions posed using the polling features of Zoom. Come ready to interact and vote for your best solutions to some hair-raising, dysFUNctional situations!

Speakers: Hon. Mary Thornton-House (Ret.); Lauriann Wright, Esq.; Robert Earnest, CLPF; and Brenda Shorkend, ALCM

Registration: Click here to register

Save the Date

CAC Fundamentals Training

Date: June 12, 2021, 4:00 p.m.—5:30 p.m.

Location: Webinar

Registration: More information to be announced.


We'd like to thank The Sanborn Team for their sponsorship of our events.


Court News

Special Bulletin: LASC Probate Court Answers Frequently Asked Questions, Series Number 5 (March 30, 2021)

Click here to view the Special Bulletin

Orange County Probate Court News

Probate Operations
Effective February 1, 2021, the Court will resume hearing in-person jury trials. All other Probate & Mental Health hearings will continue to be heard via video appearance unless specifically ordered otherwise by the Court. Beginning February 1, 2021, the Conservatorship Orientation Program will be available online as a video orientation. Completion of the video orientation is mandatory prior to the hearing date on the Petition for Appointment of Conservator. The video can be found on the court’s website. Further details are available on the Probate & Mental Health COVID-19 website page.

Counter Services
Appointments for in-person counter services will resume February 22, 2021. Appointment availability may vary by case-type/unit and can be scheduled through the Court’s website, the COVID-19 page, by selecting the “Schedule In-Person Counter Service” button. Scheduling an appointment prior to traveling to a Court facility is strongly encouraged as walk-in services may be unavailable or significantly limited.

The cite for both from is the 2/8/21 Superior Court of California County of Orange News Release

Recent Cases

Civil Procedure

The purported acceptance of a Code of Civil Procedure §998 offer lacking an acceptance provision does not give rise to a valid judgment.

Mostafavi Law Group v. Larry Rabineau APC - filed March 3, 2021, Second District, Div. Four
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 960
Full text click here

A trial court deciding a motion to attorney fees properly may consider whether the attorney seeking the fee has become personally embroiled and has, therefore, over-litigated the case; the court may also consider whether an attorney’s incivility in litigation has affected the litigation costs. The liability of a surety is commensurate with the liability of its principal, so if a principal is liable for the payment of attorney fees, its surety is as well.

Karton v. Ari Design & Construction - filed March 9, 2021, Second District, Div. Eight
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1000
Full text click here >

Where a reviewing court affirms an order granting a partial new trial, issues that are unrelated to the new trial order must await review in an appeal from the final judgment, a party cannot always seek immediate review of any portion of a judgment unaffected by a partial new trial order. When a new trial is granted in part, the entire judgment is vacated so as to avoid a possible violation of the one final judgment rule. Where an appeal of a jury’s findings were still possible when a litigant sought to invoke collateral estoppel, the jury’s findings were not a final adjudication entitled to a preclusive effect. 

Contreras-Velasquez v. Family Health Centers of San Diego - filed March 18, 2021, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1133
Full text click here


A bad faith claim requires a finding that the insurer acted unreasonably in some respect; if the jury is not asked to make a special finding on this issue, the jury’s finding in favor of the plaintiff must be vacated.

Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exchange - filed March 8, 2021, Second District, Div. One
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 981
Full text click here

The immunity conferred by Insurance Code §12414.26 does not shield title insurers from suit for charging unauthorized rates, and the Insurance Commissioner does not have exclusive jurisdiction over such claims.

Villanueva v. Fidelity National Title - filed March 18, 2021
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1114
Full text click here

An insured made out a prima facie case that its carrier was liable for failure to settle where none of the claimants made a formal offer to settle within the policy limits, but one subrogee sent a subrogation demand letter, and according to the insured’s expert witness, this represented an opportunity to settle within the policy limits.

Planet Bingo v. Burlington Insurance - filed March 18, 2021, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1186
Full text click here >  


Attorney fees are not available under Probate Code §2640.1 when a conservatorship proceeding is resolved without a conservator’s appointment.

Conservatorship of Brokken - filed March 15, 2021, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1081
Full text click here

Real Property

As a matter of law, only trustees—not trusts—can hold legal title to property; natural persons who are acting as trustees of a revocable living trust and are also the trust’s settlors and beneficiaries qualify as a landlord where the landlord is defined as a natural person, or group of natural persons, who in good faith hold a recorded fee interest in the property.

Boshernitsan v. Bach - filed March 12, 2021, First District, Div. One
Cite as 2021 S.O.S.
Full text click here >

Before an inverse condemnation action is ripe, a landowner must have made at least one development proposal that has been thoroughly rejected by land use authorities and have prosecuted at least one meaningful application for a zoning variance, which has been finally denied; multiple applications are not required where the permit denial makes clear that no development of the property would be allowed under any circumstance.

Felkay v. City of Santa Barbara - filed March 18, 2021, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1192
Full text click here >


A taxpayer is required to file administrative requests for reassessment and refund before filing a refund action in court; the administrative exhaustion requirement is jurisdictional unless the assessment is a nullity as a matter of law; an assessor’s failure to follow the procedural requirements of Revenue and Taxation Code §531.8 did not render an assessment a nullity since the property at issue was not tax exempt, nonexistent, or outside the county’s jurisdiction.

LA Live Properties v. County of Los Angeles - filed Feb. 26, 2021, Second District, Div. Three
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 913
Full text click here

Under 31 U.S.C. §5321(a)(5)(A), the Internal Revenue Service can only impose one non-willful penalty when an untimely, but accurate, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts is filed, no matter the number of accounts.

U.S. v. Boyd - filed March 24, 2021
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 19-55585
Full text click here >


Employers and supervisors of healthcare aides working in homes where firearms are present have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others; it is foreseeable that an accidental shooting might occur in a home containing unsecured, loaded firearms, and policy considerations favor a duty to use reasonable care when one knows firearms are present.

Hernandez v. Jensen - filed March 17, 2021, Second District, Div. Seven Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1109
Full text click here >

Trust and Estates

A substantial evidence standard of review applies to a trial court’s determination as to whether a trustor had a mental health disorder and an associated delusion sufficient to invalidate the trust where the relevant facts concerning the trustor’s mental state and mental condition were in dispute, and the parties presented conflicting evidence over the course of trial; substantial evidence supported a finding that a trustor did not have a mental health disorder where multiple witnesses testified the trustor never appeared disoriented or confused and medical experts testified there was no objective evidence of a mental disorder.

Eyford v. Nord - filed March 18, 2021, First District, Div. Three
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 1222
Full text click here >


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