Buskirk v. Buskirk (August 14, 2020) 53 Cal. App. 5th 523 – holding that personal jurisdiction rules are the same for trust proceedings as they are for civil proceedings – i.e., California’s jurisdictional reach is long

The following is a summary of Buskirk v. Buskirk what is a recent and important case that discussed the reach of California’s jurisdiction in trust/probate court cases.

Buskirk v. Buskirk (August 14, 2020) 53 Cal. App. 5th 523 – holding that personal jurisdiction rules are the same for trust proceedings as they are for civil proceedings – i.e., California’s jurisdictional reach is long, personal jurisdiction depends on the connections that the defendant, and/or the facts, and/or the assets that are at issue, had or have with California

Buskirk affirms the view of personal jurisdiction that I have followed in probate court cases – i.e., that California’s jurisdictional reach is long, but, of course, it is not unlimited. Broadly viewed, the approach is: (1) was or is the defendant located in California, or (2) to what extent did the relevant facts or actions occur in California, or (3) to what extent were or are the assets that are at issue located in California? In Buskirk for example, the court held that California does have jurisdiction over the settlor/trustee although she used to be but now no longer was located in California. The court evaluated the history of the settlor/trustee’s actions in California, the relevant facts and actions that had occurred in California, and the extent that the assets that were at issue were located in California.

The opinion in Buskirk also is helpful because it is fairly long and detailed as to the various different facts that were involved and that the Court considered. There are a lot of facts in Buskirk that are also present or that could also be present in a typical California probate court case. Below you will find a summary of the opinion including some quotes from the court.

“As a matter of state law, personal jurisdiction rules are the same for civil and trust proceedings. [See Prob. Code § 17004 . . . .)”

California courts may exercise jurisdiction to determine matters concerning trust property located in California—particularly land—even if the trust is administered elsewhere.

California courts may exercise jurisdiction on any basis consistent with the state or federal Constitutions. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 410.10.

Court focuses on the defendants’ relationship to the forum state when assessing personal jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction is proper if a defendant has minimum contacts with the state such that the lawsuit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.

Personal jurisdiction can be all-purpose (also called “general”) or case-linked (also called “specific”).

With case-linked jurisdiction, the court may adjudicate only those disputes relating to defendants’ contacts with the forum.

Case-linked jurisdiction is proper when: (1) defendants have purposefully availed themselves of forum benefits; (2) the controversy relates to the defendants’ contacts with the forum; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with fair play and substantial justice.

When considering purposeful availment prong of case-linked jurisdiction test, court considers whether the defendants’ conduct connects them to the forum in a meaningful way.

Defendants purposefully avail themselves of a forum’s benefits, such that case-linked jurisdiction is proper, if they intentionally direct their activities at a forum such that, by virtue of the benefit the defendants receive, they should reasonably expect to be subject to jurisdiction there.

A defendant need not physically enter California at all to be subject to personal jurisdiction in California.

“A defendant need not physically enter California at all to be subject to personal jurisdiction here. (Halyard Health, Inc. v. Kimberly-Clark Corp. (2019) 43 Cal.App.5th 1062, 1075, 256 Cal.Rptr.3d 915.) Nor can the mother undo her lifelong California contacts by moving to a new state. No matter where they now live, Respondents’ activities have involved a trust that was created and managed in California, that is governed by California law, and that continues to hold interests in California real property. Respondents have purposefully availed themselves of the California forum.”

“Next we tackle the second prong about “relatedness”: whether the son’s claims relate to Respondents’ contacts with California. We look for a substantial connection between Respondents’ forum activities and the son’s claims. (Vons, supra, 14 Cal.4th at pp. 452, 456, 58 Cal.Rptr.2d 899, 926 P.2d 1085.)”

“To defeat exercise of case-linked jurisdiction on fairness grounds, the defendant must present a compelling case that exercising jurisdiction would be unreasonable.”

“Venue is separate from personal jurisdiction. Witkin Library Reference: 2 Witkin, Cal. Procedure (5th ed. 2008) Jurisdiction, § 158 [Ownership, Possession, or Use of Property.]”

“Among other findings, the trial court specifically found most of the Trust properties currently are in Idaho, the son is no longer a Trust beneficiary, and the mother has moved to Idaho. We accept those factual findings and do not question them.”

“Mother intentionally connected with California for her own benefit, such that connection satisfied purposeful availment prong of case-linked jurisdiction over mother in son’s action for accounting of family real estate trust, where mother was lifelong California resident, created trust with her husband in California and chose California law to govern trust, trust held interests in California real estate, mother had filed four lawsuits in California involving trust property, and, since leaving California, mother had engaged in transactions aimed at extinguishing the trust’s interests in the California real estate.”

“Daughters’ connections with California satisfied purposeful availment prong of case-linked jurisdiction in son’s action for accounting of family real estate trust, where daughters were successor beneficiaries and successor trustees of the trust, which originated in California, was governed by California law, and held interest in California real estate, daughters participated in trust transactions, and daughters physically came to California to get their mother, who was trustor, and to move her to Idaho, which triggered the trust changes at issue.”

“Uncle’s connections with California satisfied purposeful availment prong of case-linked jurisdiction in son’s action for accounting of family real estate trust, where uncle had role in managing trust, which originated in California, was governed by California law, and held interest in California real estate, uncle also participated in the trust’s real estate transactions, and uncle assisted in moving trustor mother from California to Idaho, which was event that changed trust’s operation.”

“Son’s claims for accounting of family real estate trust and for removal of trustees related to mother’s, uncle’s, and daughters’ contacts with California, as required for court to assert case-specific jurisdiction over them; mother, uncle, and daughter were connected to California through the trust, which was the topic of the son’s suit, suit asserted that they harmed son and the trust by engaging in below-market California land deals and that mother created an impermissible conflict of interest, son claimed the transactions rendered them unfit to serve as trustees, and son sought appointment of professional fiduciary as trustee and claimed he had been refused an accounting.”

“Exercise of case-linked jurisdiction over mother, uncle, and daughters was fair in son’s action for accounting of family real estate trust; son was resident of California, mother previously had chosen to litigate in California regarding trust, daughters or their agents came to California to move mother to Idaho, uncle was successor trustee and managed its affairs for mother, who had lived in California for 89 years, and while mother was elderly and one daughter had cancer, court would make reasonable accommodations.”

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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.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only

Litigation, Disputes & Mediator: Business, Trust/Probate, Real Property, Governance, Elder Abuse, Investigations, Other Areas

Blogs:

Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

      • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

      • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
      • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
      • M&A disputes.
      • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
      • Buy-sell disputes.
      • Funding and share dilution disputes.
      • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
      • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
      • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
      • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

      • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
      • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.

Mediator Services and Conflict Resolution

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Video – You Can Resolve And Settle Your Convervatorship Dispute And Case – Dave Tate, Esq., Litigation, Disputes, And Mediator – California

Greetings to all of my friends, colleagues, and connections, and other people who are interested – below is a short video discussing resolution and settlement of conservatorship disputes and cases. Please contact me if I can help you settle your case or dispute. Best to you, Dave Tate

Below I have also provided my video with a summary overview of my mediator qualifications and experience:

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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.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only

Litigation, Disputes & Mediator: Business, Trust/Probate, Real Property, Governance, Elder Abuse, Investigations, Other Areas

Blogs:

Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com

Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance and governance committee, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Trust, Estate, Probate Court, Elder and Dependent Adult, and Disability Disputes and Litigation

      • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries and families; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business, Business-Related, and Workplace Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; Nonprofit Entities; and Governmental Entities

      • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
      • Misappropriation of trade secrets.
      • M&A disputes.
      • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes.
      • Buy-sell disputes.
      • Funding and share dilution disputes.
      • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages.
      • Insurance coverage and bad faith.
      • Access to corporate and business records disputes.
      • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations, Governance, and Responsibilities and Rights

      • Corporate, business, nonprofit and governmental internal investigations.
      • Board, audit committee, governance committee, and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.; and advising audit committees, governance committees, officers, directors, and boards.

Mediator Services and Conflict Resolution

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Summary of California Trustee and Beneficiary Responsibilities and Rights, and Handling Contentious Trust Administrations and Other Family Situations (PPT slides saved as PDF)

The following is a link to a PDF of my PowerPoint slides for a Summary of California Trustee and Beneficiary Responsibilities and Rights, and Handling Contentious Trust Administrations and Other Family Situations: David Tate, Esq. – Summary of California Trustee and Beneficiary Responsibilities and Rights 02252020 Slides Saved as PDF

And below is a snapshot of page 1 of the slides. Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq.

 

 

Barefoot v. Jennings, Supreme Court of California (January 23, 2020), Standing Under Cal. Probate Code §17200, and More . . .

Barefoot v. Jennings, Supreme Court of California (January 23, 2020), S251574, 2020 WL 372523

Summary and Holding: (1) Settlor Maynord executed eight amendments (amendment numbers 17 through 24) to the trust through which petitioner’s/plaintiff’s share of the trust as set out in the 16th amendment was eliminated; (2) the Court held that petitioner/plaintiff, an ex-beneficiary, has standing to bring an action under Cal. Probate Code §17200 to challenge the validity of the trust amendments where she alleges that the amendments that disinherited her were invalid because Maynord was incompetent to make the amendments; the amendments were the product of respondents’/defendants’ undue influence; and the amendments were the product of respondents’/defendants’ fraud; (3) §17200 allows a trustee or a beneficiary to petition the Court; (4) petitioner/plaintiff had standing under §17200 because although she is not currently a beneficiary, she would or will be a beneficiary if her allegations are proven.

The following are my initial comments:

  1. I don’t understand why the Court went down this path – petitioner already had standing to challenge or contest the trust amendments under her three theories (lack of mental capacity, undue influence, and fraud) – §17200 wasn’t necessary to provide petitioner with standing. Nevertheless, the holding is as it is.
  2. Allegations of lack of mental capacity, undue influence, and fraud can or might trigger a no contest clause – does bringing the action under §17200 in some manner change (lower or eliminate) that argument? See also footnote 3 in this regard.
  3. It is interesting that since petitioner was provided benefits under the 16th amendment, she had to argue that the 17th through 24th amendments are all invalid.
  4. The Court’s decision is not based on the Legislative intent – I would have thought that it would be, or at least that the Court would have thought that the Legislative intent would be relevant.
  5. In its decision the Court specifically declines to discuss or interpret Cal. Probate Code §850. That would have been an interesting discussion as I have had cases involving allegations pertaining to §850 (and §859) and when someone has standing or not – there is almost no case law on this topic although there is Legislative history. For example, one provision of §850 provides that in particular circumstances a trustee or an interested person has standing to bring a petition – but absent case law, I would not view “interested person” under §850 as being the same as “beneficiary” in the context of the Barefoot v. Jennings discussion under §17200.
  6. The Court’s decision is of interest for additional reasons, including, for example, the Court’s affirmation that in construing a trust the Court’s primary duty is to give effect to the settlor’s intentions, and the Probate Court has extremely broad power and authority to apply equitable and legal principles in order to assist its function as a Probate Court, and is given broad jurisdiction over practically all controversies that might arise between trustees and those claiming to be beneficiaries of the trust (including to preserve trust assets and the rights of all purported beneficiaries while the Court adjudicates the standing issue).

We can expect that more decisions will be forthcoming relating to the impact of the holding in Barefoot v. Jennings, potential issues that I have discussed above, standing under §17200, and the entirety of §850, et seq.

You can click on the following link for a copy of Barefoot v. Jennings Barefoot v Jennings California Supreme Court

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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.

Thank you for reading this post. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

I am also the Chair of the Business Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Blogs: Trust, estate/probate, power of attorney, conservatorship, elder and dependent adult abuse, nursing home and care, disability, discrimination, personal injury, responsibilities and rights, and other related litigation, and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com; Business, D&O, board, director, audit committee, shareholder, founder, owner, and investor litigation, governance, responsibilities and rights, compliance, investigations, and risk management  http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

My law practice primarily involves the following areas and issues:

Probate Court Disputes and Litigation

  • Trust and estate disputes and litigation, and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries and beneficiaries; elder abuse; power of attorney disputes; elder care and nursing home abuse; conservatorships; claims to real and personal property; and other related disputes and litigation.

Business and Business-Related Disputes and Litigation: Private, Closely Held, and Family Businesses; Public Companies; and Nonprofit Entities

  • Business v. business disputes including breach of contract; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices; fraud, deceit and misrepresentation; unfair competition; licensing agreements, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; etc.
  • Misappropriation of trade secrets
  • M&A disputes
  • Founder, officer, director and board, investor, shareholder, creditor, VC, control, governance, decision making, fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, independence, voting, etc., disputes
  • Buy-sell disputes
  • Funding and share dilution disputes
  • Accounting, lost profits, and royalty disputes and damages
  • Access to corporate and business records disputes
  • Employee, employer and workplace disputes and processes, discrimination, whistleblower and retaliation, harassment, defamation, etc.

Investigations and Governance

  • Corporate and business internal investigations
  • Board, audit committee and special committee governance and processes, disputes, conflicts of interest, independence, culture, ethics, etc.

The following are copies of the tables of contents of three of the more formal materials that I have written over the years about accounting/auditing, audit committees, and related legal topics – Accounting and Its Legal Implications was my first formal effort, which resulted in a published book that had more of an accounting and auditing focus; Chapter 5A, Audit Committee Functions and Responsibilities, for the California Continuing Education of the Bar has a more legal focus; and the most recent Tate’s Excellent Audit Committee Guide (February 2017) also has a more legal focus:

Accounting and Its Legal Implications

Chapter 5A, Audit Committee Functions and Responsibilities, CEB Advising and Defending Corporate Directors and Officers

Tate’s Excellent Audit Committee Guide

The following are other summary materials that you might find useful:

OVERVIEW OF A RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESS THAT YOU CAN USE 03162018

Audit Committee 5 Lines of Success, Diligence, and Defense - David Tate, Esq, 05052018

COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework ERM Components and Principles

From a prior blog post which you can find at https://wp.me/p75iWX-dk if the below scan is too difficult to read:

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Power of Attorney / Attorney in Fact Responsibilities and Rights – Slides 3, 4 and 5

I seldom see discussions about power of attorney, principal, and attorney-in-fact responsibilities and rights. In this post and in subsequent posts I will be providing some of my power of attorney presentation slides. Below in this post I have provided screenshots of my slide numbers 3, 4 and 5.

You should note, obviously these slides are a summary of what can be a complicated area of law and specific facts, they are not a solicitation for services inside or outside of California, and they do not pertain to any particular situation or to you and your situation. You need to consult with an appropriate professional for your specific situation.

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (California)

Blogs:

 

 

New California case upholds the substantial benefit doctrine for payment and recovery of attorneys’ fees and expert witness fees from the entire trust and the shares of all of the beneficiaries

In Smith v. Szeyller (Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, B281758, January 16, 2019), the court held that the probate court’s award approving payment of attorneys’ fees and expert witness fees from the trust to the beneficiary who challenged the trustees’ accounting and management of the trust was appropriate under the substantial benefit doctrine. The beneficiary who challenged the trustees’ accounting and management of the trust prevailed, thus benefiting the trust and all beneficiaries of the trust although only the one beneficiary challenged the accounting and management. As the trust and all of its beneficiaries benefited from the successful challenge, it was appropriate that the attorneys’ fees and expert witness fees be paid and reimbursed from the assets of the entire trust and the shares of each of the beneficiaries thereof.

Note: I used this doctrine after a successful week-long trial in one of my cases.

Thanks for reading this post. If you have found value in this post, I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly. And please also subscribe to this blog and my other blog (see below), and connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Every trust situation is different. You do need to consult with professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for 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.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only

Blogs: California trust, estate, and elder abuse litigation and contentious administrations http://californiaestatetrust.com; D&O, audit committee, governance and risk management http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

From Frameworks Institute – Elder Abuse Toolkit

The Frameworks Institute has developed a toolkit which analyzes problems with society’s view of elder abuse and recommends alternative more effective approaches to discussing elder abuse. The following is a link to the Frameworks Institute, Elder Abuse website page, and a screenshot of the initial website page. Best to you – David Tate, Esq.

Here is the link to the Frameworks Institute, Elder Abuse website page, http://frameworksinstitute.org/elder-abuse.html

And the following is a screenshot of the initial website page:

 

Don’t delay: allegations of incompetence could give beneficiary standing, but delay in taking action could bar a beneficiary from contesting a trust or will at a later date (laches), Drake v. Pinkham

Drake v. Pinkham (California Court of Appeal, Third District, Case No. C068747, decided May 28, 2013, ordered for publication June 21, 2013).

This case involves a daughter’s (Gina) contest of two of her mother’s (Josephine) trust amendments (amendments dated 2001 and 2004) on the grounds that at the time of the amendments Josephine lacked mental capacity, was unduly influenced by a second daughter (Janice), and did not understand the amendments or her estate.  On a motion for summary judgment the trial court found that Gina’s contest was barred by the statute of limitations and principles of collateral estoppel.  On appeal, the Court of Appeal did not consider the statute of limitations or collateral estoppel issues, but instead found that Gina’s contest was barred by the defense of laches.

Gina filed her contest after her mother’s October 2009 death.  However, several years earlier, in 2005, Gina had filed a petition requesting the court to confirm her appointment as co-trustee under the terms of the trust and amendments dated 1992, 1993 and 1999.  Gina claimed that Josephine lacked the ability to care for herself or act as trustee and Janice’s alleged undue influence over her – Gina alleged that after the death of Josephine’s husband Theodore Janice began progressively isolating Josephine to the point that Gina no longer had contact with her mother, and that Janice had complete control over Josephine including her finances and was acting as the sole trustee of the trust.  Filed an objection to Gina’s 2005 petition and attached to her objection copies of her 2001 and 2004 trust amendments. The 2001 Fourth Amendment eliminated Gina as a beneficiary and named Janice as the sole successor trustee, and the 2004 Fifth Amendment designated Janice as Josephine’s acting co-trustee and sole successor trustee.  At that time in 2005 Gina did not challenge the 2001 or 2004 amendments.  Instead, Gina entered into a settlement agreement in which Josephine represented that she was the sole acting trustee, and in her capacity as such on behalf of all successor trustees, she agreed not to sell, encumber, lease, rent, transfer or otherwise take any action affecting any real property of the trust without prior notice to Gina and Janice as provided in the trust.

On appeal the Court addressed several important issues that could have ramifications or that might at least be considered in cases where issues exist relating to mental capacity, undue influence, and understanding of the trust or will documents and the nature of the estate and its assets.

  1. On appeal Gina argued as a defense that in 2005 she did not have standing to contest the 2001 and 2004 amendments pursuant to Cal. Probate Code sections 17200 and 15800 because the trust was still revocable in 2005.  The Court of Appeal noted that under sections 17200 and 15800 a beneficiary lacks standing to challenge a trust so long as the “trust is revocable and the person holding the power to revoke the trust is competent.”  The Court held that it was not persuaded by Gina’s argument, holding that since Gina alleged in 2005 that Josephine was incompetent, those allegations by Gina in 2005 took the matter outside of the terms of section 15800, and with those allegations Gina had standing in 2005 to contest the trust amendments, although at trial she still would have had the burden of proving her contest of the amendments.
  2. The Court further held that laches barred Gina from contesting the 2001 and 2004 amendments after her mother died in 2009.  In pertinent part, the Court discussed that the defense of laches requires unreasonable delay plus either acquiescence in the act about which plaintiff complains or prejudice to the defendant resulting from any delay – and that any delay is measured from the time that the plaintiff knew or should have known about the alleged claim.  In 2005 Gina had the usual rights of a trust beneficiary and beneficiary legal standing if Gina simply alleged that Josephine was incompetent, which Gina did in fact allege in 2005.  Further, “Finally, Gina’s failure to bring the action until after Josephine had passed away was necessarily prejudicial where, as here, each and every cause of action set forth in the underlying petition centered on Josephine – her mental capacity, defendant’s influence over her, and her understanding of the Fourth [2001] and Fifth [2004] Amendments and her estate.  (See Bono v. Clark (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 1409, 1420 [the death of an important witness may constitute prejudice]; Stafford v. Ballinger (1962) 199 Cal. App.2d 289, 296 [same].”

Take away from Drake v. Pinkham, assuming that the case is not further appealed to the California Supreme Court.

  1. As always, before you file any pleading, claim, allegation or paper with any court relating to a trust, will or other document with a no contest clause or to which a no contest clause applies, you must evaluate and make sure that the filing will not trigger the no contest clause.  If such a clause is triggered, the result might be that you are disinherited.  These are complicated issues – you need to consult with an attorney on these issues.
  2. A simple allegation that the trustor is incompetent might allow or provide the trust beneficiary or potential beneficiary with legal standing and certain beneficiary rights in an otherwise revocable trust under Cal. Probate Code sections 17200, 15800, the terms of the trust, accounting and information provisions, and other statutes.  Of course, the proof of those claims must still be established by the evidence.
  3. Allegations and claims, statements, and knowledge of facts by a beneficiary or potential beneficiary, or facts that a beneficiary or potential beneficiary should know, could trigger a requirement that the beneficiary or potential beneficiary bring suit and not delay bringing suit to enforce his or her rights and entitlements, or be barred from doing so later pursuant to the defense of laches such as if the testator dies or the testator’s mental competency declines as time passes.
  4. The defense of laches, i.e., delay, and case law relating to laches now take on renewed potential importance in trust, will, conservatorship and power of attorney litigation.  For example, if a beneficiary or potential beneficiary knows of a trust or will, or a trust amendment or will codicil, that is contrary to the beneficiary’s rights or interests, and the beneficiary simply believes that the trustor or testator might have had capacity issues or might have been unduly influenced, or that testamentary document seems contrary to what the trustor or testator would have naturally done or wanted or understood about his or her assets or estate, might that beneficiary or potential beneficiary be required to file a legal action on those possible claims without delay, or be barred by laches from doing so at a later time?  I have seen trust, will, conservatorship and power of attorney situations where people have delayed taking action – under the holding in Drake v. Pinkham they now need to consider the possible effect of delay and possible laches defenses against them if they do delay in bringing a legal action.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq.

Disclaimer and Warning.  This blog post and the contents and information contained in the post are not legal advice, do not create or cause an attorney client relationship with your or anyone else, and do not relate or pertain to any person, entity or factual situation, and I do not know the facts of your situation.  The contents of this blog post are only a summary of information which could change over time.  I have not advised you about your situation, and you definitely should consult with an attorney for your particular situation.

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Dr. Kerry Burnight on Live Long and Master Aging – Loneliness, Aging, Technology and GrandPad

Below I have provided a link to a podcast with Dr. Kerry Burnight on Live Long and Master Aging, in which Dr. Burnight, a gerontologist, discusses many aspects of aging, including, for example, the value of older people, and how technology can help with aging loneliness. Dr. Burnight also discusses a product that she is involved with, the GrandPad and how they worked to make the product specifically useful for older users. The podcast is somewhat long; however, you will find that there are useful comments and information throughout. Here is the link to the podcast http://www.llamapodcast.com/kerry-burnight/

As I was listening to the podcast I started thinking about the usefulness of the GrandPad in terms of risk management or enterprise risk management (ERM), and legal duties, responsibilities and rights, in the context of nursing homes for example. Is a product like the GrandPad something that nursing homes should (or must?) provide or make available to their residents, to make it easier for a resident to safely stay in touch with family and friends, for socialization, for mental stimulation and to help prevent decline in mental capabilities, and for personal daily living enjoyment?  

Best to you, David Tate, Esq.

And here is a snapshot of the Live Long and Master Aging website page:

Snapshot of Kerry Burnight on Long Live and Master Aging

David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA), Royse Law Firm, Menlo Park, California office, with offices in northern and southern California.  My blogs: trust, estate, elder abuse and conservatorship litigation http://californiaestatetrust.com, D&O, boards, audit committees, governance, etc. http://auditcommitteeupdate.com, workplace http://workplacelawreport.com

OVERVIEW OF A RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESS THAT YOU CAN USE 03162018

Audit Committee 5 Lines of Success, Diligence, and Defense - David Tate, Esq, 05052018

COSO Enterprise Risk Management Framework ERM Components and Principles

David Tate, Esq., Overview of My Practice Areas (Royse Law Firm, Menlo Park, California office, with offices in northern and southern California. http://rroyselaw.com)

  • Civil Litigation: business, commercial, real estate, D&O, board and committee, founder, owner, investor, creditor, shareholder, M&A, and other disputes and litigation
  • Probate Court Litigation: trust, estate, elder abuse, and conservatorship disputes and litigation
  • Administration: trust and estate administration and contentious administrations representing fiduciaries and beneficiaries
  • Workplace (including discrimination) litigation and consulting
  • Board, director, committee and audit committee, and executive officer responsibilities and rights

Royse Law Firm – Overview of Firm Practice Areas – San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin

  • Corporate and Securities, Financing and Formation
  • Corporate Governance, D&O, Boards and Committees, Audit Committees, Etc.
  • Intellectual Property – Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets
  • International
  • Immigration
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Labor and Employment
  • Litigation (I broke out the litigation as this is my primary area of practice)
  •             Business & Commercial
  •             IP – Patent, Trademark, Copyright, Trade Secret, NDA
  •             Accountings, Fraud, Lost Income/Royalties, Etc.
  •             Internet Privacy, Hacking, Speech, Etc.
  •             Labor and Employment
  •             Mergers & Acquisitions
  •             Real Estate
  •             Owner, Founder, Investor, D&O, Board/Committee, Shareholder
  •             Lender/Debtor
  •             Investigations
  •             Trust, Estate, Conservatorship, Elder Abuse, and Administrations
  • Real Estate
  • Tax (US and International) and Tax Litigation
  • Technology Companies and Transactions, Including AgTech and HealthTech, Etc.
  • Wealth and Estate Planning, Trust and Estate Administration, and Disputes and Litigation

Disclaimer. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside or outside of California, and also does not provide legal or other professional advice to you or to anyone else, or about a specific situation – remember that laws are always changing – and also remember and be aware that you need to consult with an appropriate lawyer or other professional about your situation. This post also is not intended to and does not apply to any particular situation or person, nor does it provide and is not intended to provide any opinion or any other comments that in any manner state, suggest or imply that anyone or any entity has done anything unlawful, wrong or wrongful – instead, each situation must be fully evaluated with all of the evidence, whereas this post only includes summary comments about information that may or may not be accurate and that most likely will change over time.

David Tate Presentation About Trustee and Beneficiary Responsibilities and Rights, and Contentious Trust Administrations and Other Situations (May 24, 2018)

Attend My Upcoming Presentation About Trustee and Beneficiary Responsibilities and Rights, and Contentious Trust Administrations and Other Situations

Date: May 24, 2018

Time: 6:00 P.M. – 7:45 P.M.

Location: Royse Law Firm, PC, 149 Commonwealth Drive, Ste. 1001, Menlo Park, CA 94025, (650) 813-9700

I will be presenting a discussion about California trustee and beneficiary responsibilities and rights, and contentious trust administrations on May 24, 2018, from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., at the Royse Law Firm, PC, at 149 Commonwealth Drive, Ste. 1001, Menlo Park, CA 94025, (650) 813-9700. The presentation is free. At the bottom of this post I have provided a link to register if you would like to attend. Please also tell other people who would be interested. The presentation and handout are detailed, but the discussion is primarily directed toward non-lawyers and other people who are not experts in the subject areas.

The presentation covers the following primary topic areas. Many of the discussion areas also apply to wills and estates:

  1. Overview of trust interpretation, responsibilities and rights
  2. Investments and management
  3. Accountings and information
  4. Uncertainties and disputes
  5. Additional select trust, estate, elder, and planning issues depending on the attendees, such as conservatorships, elder abuse, powers of attorney, mental capacity, transfers to prohibited people, when a trustor dies, planning, etc.

Please click on the following link for additional detail and to register to attend the presentation, and please also tell other people who would be interested: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/trustees-beneficiaries-responsibilities-rights-and-handling-disputes-tickets-44921355985