In Memory of Deborah Tate Trotta (Sept. 12, 2021) . . . the Florida lawsuit to get Deb’s ashes home to California, personal property including Tate legacy, Annie, other assets . . .

Today is one year after the body of my dear sister Deb was found at the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, which is only a short distance from her home. Deb was known to go there often for walks at the beach. We (Deb’s relatives, lifelong friends, and I) wanted an obituary to be published for Deb in loving memory and in celebration of her life. A long time had already passed without action. Below I have pasted a copy of the January 2022 obituary that we published in loving memory and celebration of Deb’s life.

In mid-May, 2022, we filed two petitions with the Court, one for administration and one to obtain and bring Deb’s ashes back home to California (the petitions should be public record) – here is the caption for the petition that we filed to get Deb’s ashes home to California:

Many efforts were made to avoid the lawsuit, and efforts have even continued last month. Responses to the petitions were filed with the Court (which also should be public record). The responses are essentially objections and denials. We served written discovery (interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions). The responses to the discovery came back the last week in August (i.e., last month). Again, objections and denials.

The denials include the denial that Deb had wanted her ashes to come home to California to be spread at two locations – (1) Mt. Tam (Tamalpais)/Mill Valley/Sausalito, and (2) at the winery. People who know Deb know this to be true. Since Deb’s death her ashes, and all of her assets including Tate legacy personal property have been controlled, possessed, and kept secret in Florida.

I have handled a lot of trust, estate, and elder abuse cases over the years. Nevertheless, there are some circumstances about Deb’s situation that I had not previously seen. For example, this is the first case that has involved the decedent’s wishes for what will happen to her remains (in this case Deb’s ashes) – I have come to experience and understand what an important issue this is for the decedent, and for her family, and for her really good friends, spiritually and emotionally, and for closure. One might argue that it is one of the most important, or perhaps the most important issue after a loved one passes.

I am now aware that the laws in Florida and California are similar regarding a decedent’s remains. The law in Florida is that the decedent’s wishes are to be honored. The law in California is similar but the path or process that is followed to get there might be a little different. For example, in some situations in California a person who was an attorney in fact under a power of attorney for health care (if there was one) might be involved in decision making; however, if you are knowledgeable about powers of attorney you will also know that the principal’s wishes and instructions are relevant and important, and must be followed in some situation or at least considered in the other situations. Thus, in Deb’s case, under both Florida and California law her ashes should come home to California as she wished – which, of course, has not happened, is being prevented, and I am now convinced will not occur without Court order.

It is important that Deb’s wishes be honored. Perhaps lessons can also be learned from Deb’s situation that might be helpful to other people in similar situations. I can tell you that I now view certain situations differently than I did before. More to follow – in addition to the law, in Deb’s situation there is also a fairly large amount of evidence including texts, phone calls and phone messages, emails, pictures, videos, etc.

Written in loving memory of Deb and in celebration of her life.

Here is a picture of Deb’s obituary:

Thank you for reading. Please pass this along to other people who would be interested.

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Best to you,

David Tate, Esq. (and inactive CPA)

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Remember, every case and situation is different. It is important to obtain and evaluate all of the evidence that is available, and to apply that evidence to the applicable standards and laws. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Also note – sometimes I include links to or comments about materials from other organizations or people – if I do so, it is because I believe that the materials are worthwhile reading or viewing; however, that doesn’t mean that I don’t or might not have a different view about some or even all of the subject matter or materials, or that I necessarily agree with, or agree with everything about or relating to, that organization or person, or those materials or the subject matter.

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Trust, estate, conservatorship, elder and elder abuse, etc. litigation and contentious administrations

David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing only as an attorney in California.