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Special Announcements
Recent Cases
Tax News


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

Jana G. Garrotto

Stefanie S. Cutler
Ruttenberg Cutler, LLP

Jessica G. Gordon
Thompson Coburn LLP

Trusts and Estates Executive Committee Officers:

Stefanie S. Cutler, Chair
Jana G. Garrotto, Vice-Chair
Deborah Keesey, Secretary & Treasurer
Marc L. Sallus, Immediate Past Chair


Save the Date

LACBA Trusts and Estates Lecture Series

Date: January 14, 2020
Time: 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Location: Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Topic: Ethical Issues in Trust & Estates
Speakers: Hon. Mary Thornton House, Judge (Ret.) and Stefanie Cutler, Esq.

More Information to be announced.

Minors Counsel Training

Date: February 8, 2020
Time: 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Location: LACBA

More Information to be announced.


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


Special Announcements

Click here to find out more about the Bet Tzedek Legal Service Homelessness Prevention Program and other Resources regarding Homelessness Prevention.

Recent Cases
Civil Procedure

The mailing of a minute order to the parties stating a transfer motion was granted is sufficient to provide service of notice, subjecting the action to dismissal due to nonpayment of the costs and fees after 30 days.

Southwestern Law School v. Benson; Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles - filed Oct. 25, 2019
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3570
Full text click here >

The prohibition against the exercise of peremptory challenges to exclude prospective jurors on the basis of race or other group bias applies to civil as well as criminal cases. A party made a Batson/Wheeler motion after the defense dismissed four Hispanic jurors one day, and two additional Hispanic jurors the next day; while there may have been sufficient evidence to support a prima facie finding of group bias after the first day, the showing of discriminatory bias was strengthened by the excusals on the second day, and the motion filed the second day was timely; once the trial court found a prima facie showing of group bias, the court was required to elicit justifications for each of the six challenges forming the basis for the prima facie showing.

Unzueta v. Akopyan - filed Nov. 18, 2019, Second District, Div. Seven
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3600
Full text click here >

The fees a plaintiff incurred in pursuing a motion to amend a judgment to include an alter ego of the defendants as an additional judgment debtor were prejudgment fees governed by Rule of Court 3.1702(b).

Highland Springs Conference and Training Center v. City of Banning (SCC Acquisitions) - filed Nov. 21, 2019, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3740
Full text click here >

Alleged widespread, criminal identity theft is a matter of public interest for purposes of the anti-SLAPP analysis. A brief’s reference to a female judge as attractive is inappropriate because it is both irrelevant and sexist, regardless of whether the comment was intended as a compliment.

Briganti v. Chow - filed Nov. 22, 2019, Second District, Div. Four
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3746
Full text click here >


A bank’s commercial customer waived its defense to the bank’s effort to enforce an arbitration agreement based on the alleged procedural unconscionability of the agreement by failing to raise the defense before the trial court. An arbitration agreement was not substantively unconscionable where it required the arbitrator to apply the governing state law, prohibited a jury trial and limited the scope of judicial review for the arbitrator’s decision.

Prima Donna Development Corporation v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. - filed Nov. 13, 2019, Sixth District
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3528
Full text click here >

Family Law

Generally, a person from whom a child has been removed under Welfare and Institutions Code §387 lacks standing to challenge the removal, but when that person is a relative, the relative has standing to appeal under §361.3.

In re K.T. - filed Nov. 12, 2019, Fourth District, Div. Two
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3540
Full text click here >

A trial court did not err in instructing a jury with modified CACI No. 4000 because a proposed conservatee’s unwillingness or inability to accept voluntarily meaningful treatment was not a required element under Welfare and Institutions Code §5008(h)(1).

Conservatorship of D.P. - filed Oct. 31, 2019, Second District, Div. Five
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3408
Full text click here >

A trial court abuses its discretion in denying a request for an order terminating spousal support without taking any evidence.

In re Marriage of Pasco - filed Nov. 25, 2019, Third District
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3887
Full text click here >

Real Property

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s asserted tax lien against a property was a concrete and actual interest giving it standing to challenge a competing claim to the proceeds of the sale of the property. Each claimant in a dispute under Civil Code §2924j has their own burden to prove each fact essential to their claim. A parcel number alone was not enough to resolve an ambiguity in a trust deed where the parcel number did not describe the property’s actual, physical location.

MTC Financial v. California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (Mehta) - filed Oct. 31, 2019, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3411
Full text click here >

Trusts and Estates

Probate Code §5302 concerns the rules to determine the beneficial interests in a joint account and §5303 concerns the express terms of the account. Even though §5302(e) provides that a right of survivorship cannot be changed by will, that provision merely preserves the nonprobate quality of survivorship rights and a court may still look to the will as an expression of intent to negate survivorship.

Placencia v. Strazicich - filed Nov. 26, 2019, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2019 S.O.S. 3945
Full text click here >

Tax News

IRS Final regulations confirmed: Making large gifts now won’t harm estates after 2025.


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