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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

Julie Birkel
Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Trusts and Estates Executive Committee Officers:

Debbie Keesey, Chair
Susan Barlevav Devermont, Vice-Chair
Sarah Broomer, Secretary & Treasurer
Jana G. Garrotto, Immediate Past Chair


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Upcoming Events

2021 Trusts and Estates Symposium - Part I

Weaponizing the Litigation Process: When Litigation Results in the Taking of Hostages

Date: September 13, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

Location: Webinar

What happens when the legal process doesn't work because it is being used as a weapon to punish those on the opposing side of litigation? Judge Goetz has seen this happen from the bench and in her alternative dispute resolution practice. The judge will survey the limited statutory protections available to combat hostage-taking litigants in probate litigation matters, and also offer suggestions which may help deter the strong-arm tactics of some litigants.

Anti-SLAPP Motions in Probate Litigation
Alana Rotter will present on the application of the anti-SLAPP statute in the context of probate litigation. Alana will survey cases in which the motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute has been used in probate litigation, and will provide an update on the status of recent legislation.

Hon. Reva G. Goetz (Ret.), JAMS
Alana Rotter Esq., Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, LLP

1.5 total CLE credits (Trusts and Estates Specialization)

Click here to register or for more information.


2021 Trusts and Estates Symposium, Part II

Tales From the Crypt(o): Planning, Administration, and Litigation Considerations for Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets

Date: September 20, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Location: Webinar

J.D. Rees will speak on estate planning, administration and litigation issues related to cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

J.D. Rees, Sheppard Mullin

1.0 hr CLE credit (Trusts and Estates Specialization)

Click here to register or for more information.


Breslin Notice: Consequences for the Non-Participant Beneficiary

Date: September 29, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Location: Webinar

This program will discuss the case of Breslin v. Breslin and the holding that any potential beneficiary with a potential claim in that trust who receives a notice of mediation and fails to attend or participate, forfeits his or her right to object to any settlement reached at mediation. Judge Reiser was the mediator at the trial level in the case, and Mark Lester was one of the attorneys representing the Respondents on appeal.

Hon. Glen M. Reiser (Ret.) JAMS
Mark Lester, Esq., Jones, Lester, Schuck, Becker & Dehesa LLP

Susan B. Devermont Esq., Hinojosa & Forer LLP

1.0 hr CLE credit (Trusts and Estates Specialization)

Click here to register or for more information.


Conserving Britney Part II

The Internal Affairs of Conservatorships: How They Run, Change and End

Date: September 30, 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Location: Webinar

This program is FREE to attend.

Justice Maria Stratton, Associate Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Eight
Hon. Mary Thornton House (Ret.)
Hon. Kim R. Hubbard, Superior Court of California, County of Orange
Lawrence Lebowsky, Law Office of Lawrence M. Lebowsky
Gavin Wasserman, Wasserman & Wasserman, LLP

Matthew Kanin, Greenspoon Marder LLP
Steven P. Beltran, Beltran Smith, LLP
Deborah Keesey, Hansen Seto Keesey LLP

2.0 CA CLE hrs. credit including Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialization

Click here to register or for more information.

Save the Date

Aviva K. Bobb Advanced CAC Training

Date: October 2

Location: Webinar

The Training will focus on the following topics with the below noted speakers:

  1. Handling Waiver, Appearances, and the Reading of Rights: To Waive or Not Waive, That is the Question: Adam Streltzer and Larry Lebowski
  2. A Deep Dive Into POAs in Relation to Conservatorships: John "Jack" Gordon and Mary O'Neill
  3. The CAC's Role in Substituted Judgment Petitions: Cynthia Cox and Scott Schomer.
  4. The LA Probate Court in 2022: Judicial Officer (TBD) and Nicholas Van Brunt

Registration: More information to be announced.


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


Court News

LACourtConnect Update

Click here to see the latest news release from the Los Angeles Superior Court regarding Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor’s that Court Will Provide Lacourtconnect Free of Charge During Delta Variant Surge Using One-Time COVID State Budget Funding for Backlogs.

Recent Cases

Civil Procedure

A plaintiff met its burden to show a defendant purposefully availed itself of the benefits of the California forum where the defendant entered into an agreement creating ongoing obligations for the defendant within the state, and the agreement contained a California choice-of-law provision; jurisdiction over the defendant was not appropriate, however, where the claims against the defendant do not arise from and bear little relation to its activities directed at the forum.

Rivelli v. Hemm - filed Aug. 2, 2021, Sixth District
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4331
Full text click here >

Civil Code 1717(b)(2) bars an award of fees on a plaintiff’s declaratory relief claim where the trial court dismissed it pursuant to a settlement. There is no blanket rule that a nonsignatory is barred in every instance from recovering attorney fees on tort claims pursuant to a contractual fees provision.

Hom v. Petrou - filed Aug. 3, 2021, First District, Div. Four
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4351
Full text click here >

A trial court did not err in giving preclusive effect to a statement of decision and judgment even though it had been partly vacated as a condition of settlement; a judgment entered after trial and later vacated or subsumed by a dismissal as a condition of settlement remains sufficiently firm and thus final for purposes of issue preclusion; a prior judgment is preclusive even when there are doubts about its correctness.

Meridian Financial Services v. Phan - filed Aug. 10, 2021, Fourth District, Div. One
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4438
Full text click here >

The discovery rule—which postpones the accrual of a cause of action until such time as the facts underlying the cause of action were or should have been discovered—is unavailable when Code of Civil Procedure §338(a) is the applicable statute of limitations.

Holman v. County of Butte - filed Aug. 17, 2021, publication ordered Aug. 25, 2021, Third District
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4793
Full text click here >

Constitutional Law

California Civil Procedure Code §377.34’s prohibition of loss of life damages is inconsistent with 42 U.S.C. §1983.

Valenzuela v. City of Anaheim - filed Aug. 3, 2021
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 20-55372
Full text click here >


A party’s expert may not offer testimony at trial that exceeds the scope of his deposition testimony if the opposing party has no notice or expectation that the expert will offer the new testimony, or if notice of the new testimony comes at a time when deposing the expert is unreasonably difficult, but the notice requirement does not apply to an expert’s opinions in a declaration in opposition to summary judgment. A declaration that contradicts prior discovery responses is not sufficient to create a triable issue of fact; the contradiction does not necessarily eliminate the declaration’s evidentiary value.

Harris v. Thomas Dee Engineering Co. - filed Aug. 4, 2021, First District, Div. Five
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4374
Full text click here >

Family Law

While contracts that are voidable for lack of due consent may be ratified by subsequent consent, a premarital agreement that is not enforceable under Family Code §1615 is void, not voidable, and accordingly cannot be ratified.

Knapp v. Ginsberg - filed Aug. 5, 2021, Second District, Div. Four
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4382
Full text click here >

Where it is undisputed that there is a community property interest in real property, it is the obligation of both spouses to ensure that the family court has the information necessary to determine that interest, no matter which spouse brought the dissolution action.

In re Marriage of Ramsey and Holmes - filed Aug. 17, 2021, Second District, Div. Four
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4647
Full text click here >

When a guardian is appointed in dependency proceedings at a selection-and-implementation hearing, the juvenile court retains jurisdiction over the minor as a ward of the guardianship; Welfare and Institutions Code §366.3(b)(2) and California Rules of Court rule 5.740(d) set forth the procedure to terminate such guardianships; rule 5.740(d)(4) provides that a §388 petition must be filed in the juvenile court; given that the statute governing termination of guardianships does not mention supplemental petitions under §387 and the implementing Rule of Court could not be more plain that a petition to terminate a guardianship proceeds by way of a petition to modify under §388, it is appropriate to proceed by such a petition.

In re N.B. - filed July 27, 2021, publication ordered Aug. 18, 2021, First District, Div. One
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4671
Full text click here>


Evidence Code §662, and not Family Code §760, should apply when determining the character of real property in a probate matter.

Estate of Wall - filed Aug. 24, 2021, Third District
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4760
Full text click here >

Professional Responsibility

A provision in an attorney’s contingent fee agreement, which purports to grant the attorney the right to accept settlement offers on the client’s behalf in the attorney’s sole discretion, violates the Rules of Professional Conduct and is void to the extent it purports to grant an attorney the right to accept a settlement over the client’s objection.

Amjadi v. Brown - filed Aug. 30, 2021, Fourth District, Div. Three
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4898
Full text click here >


A fiduciary relationship between the parties is not required to state a cause of action for accounting; the right to an accounting can arise from the possession by the defendant of money or property which, because of the defendant's relationship with the plaintiff, the defendant is obliged to surrender.

Conservatorship of Farrant - filed Aug. 2, 2021, Second District, Div. Six
Cite as 2021 S.O.S. 4344
Full text click here >


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