Headline says Britney Spears wants conservatorship case to be open to the public: – and related conservatorship legal issues . . . .

I have provided immediately below a snapshot from a September 3, 2020, Today article headline on Yahoo Entertainment relating to the Britney Spears conservatorship, and a request that the conservatorship case be made open to the public.

Although the length of time that the conservatorship has been in place really has nothing to do with the issues in the case – nevertheless, although the conservatorship has been in place for 12 years, other than news stories, which might or might not be entirely accurate and for the most part do not contain a full discussion or a discussion from the legal perspective, it has been very difficult if not impossible to determine what legal arguments have been made, the actual evidence that has been presented, and the basis for the court’s rulings in the case. Will that be changing in the future . . . well, we don’t know, but it might be.

More and more headlines about the case are now appearing in the news, and they raise interesting legal issues as they pertain to conservatorships and court proceedings in general. Historically there have been few California appellate decisions relating to conservatorship proceedings and conservatee rights, but that has slowing been changing. For example, in more recent California appellate court conservatorship cases it has been held that in a conservatorship there is a right to a jury trial (at least on the issue of whether or not there should be a conservatorship) whereas in probate court cases in general there is no such right, and at least on conservatorship issues that involve fundamental rights the burden of proof that is applied is clear and convincing (which is a heightened standard, that requires stronger evidence before the limitation is justified and can be ordered).

Although different courts have used different wording to describe various burdens of proof, the following descriptions have been used:

  • The preponderance of the evidence burden is essentially more likely than not.
  • The beyond a reasonable doubt burden is designed to exclude as nearly as possible the likelihood of an erroneous judgment and imposes almost the entire risk of error upon the party bearing the burden of proof.
  • The clear and convincing burden is an intermediate standard that increases the burden on the party seeking relief requiring a finding of high probability, based on evidence so clear as to leave no substantial doubt and sufficiently strong to command the unhesitating assent of every reasonable mind.

Another requirement in a conservatorship is that the court, and thus also the parties, must consider whether there are workable options that are less restrictive than a conservatorship, or that are less restrictive than a full conservatorship, or that are less restrictive with respect to some of the issues and the prospective conservatee or conservatee’s alleged needs, limitations and deficiencies. Whether or not there is a conservatorship, or whether a conservatorship continues and in what form and under what authorities, rights and restrictions, is not supposed to be based on a medical or other diagnosis – it is based on actual needs, limitations and deficiencies that are established based on the factual evidence pertaining to the prospective conservatee or conservatee’s abilities to act and make decisions on behalf of herself or himself and to protect herself or himself and her or his interests, and the limitations therein that exist.

In that regard, facts and circumstances can change over time; thus, when a conservatorship is granted, that conservatorship also is scheduled for review by the court to determine whether facts and circumstances or the conservatee’s abilities and needs have changed. An interested person who has sufficient standing also can file a petition requesting that some or all of the aspects of the conservatorship be changed, including a request that the conservatorship be terminated, or that other changes be made.   

Regarding whether the case is open to the public, the general and overriding legal principle is that cases are open to the public unless it can be established that a case should not be public based on the particular facts of that case. A conservatorship proceeding is a legal proceeding in which the state (i.e., the government through the court) is being requested to take away or limit some, or sometimes many or most, of the prospective conservatee’s important personal, constitutional, and fundamental legal decision making and other rights and freedoms.

I’m assuming that Britney Spears’ case has not been public because previously she either requested, or she at least agreed or did not oppose, that the case would not be open to the public. That certainly would not be surprising given privacy and public image issues or concerns. Nevertheless, those concerns could exist in every conservatorship case, although not necessarily to the extent that they might exist in a case that involves a very public figure. How much bearing should the extent that a prospective conservatee or an existing conservatee is a public figure have on whether or not the case is open to the public? I haven’t researched for those court decisions, but the issue might already have been briefed in Britney Spears’ case.

As the above headline indicates, if in fact Ms. Spears is now requesting that her case be open to the public, as she in fact might be requesting especially as various other headlines appear to have indicated that she is starting to fight and oppose the conservatorship or at least parts of it, a strong argument can be made that her case should be open to the public.

Some of these similar issues and principles were at play a few years back in one of my cases in which it was difficult to convince a court to seal previously filed pleadings and declarations in a case that involved significant privacy issues (a prior, years ago completed sexual harassment case in which the victim now was requesting that the court seal the records). There are three primary reasons why legal proceedings generally and in principle are open to the public absent strong evidence and legal authority to the contrary, and a court order:

(1) to demonstrate that justice is meted out fairly,

(2) to provide a means by which citizens scrutinize and check the use and possible abuse of judicial power, and

(3) to enhance the truthfinding function of the proceeding.

NBC Subsidiary (KNBC-TV), Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1999) 20 Cal. 4th 1178, 1219.

Thus, if Ms. Spears is in fact requesting that her conservatorship case now be open to the public, there is a strong legal principle that supports her request. Of course, that doesn’t mean that such a request will be granted, but that is what makes the law and court proceedings what they are.

More to follow on this interesting case.

Below you will also find two short videos, one discussing resolution and settlement of conservatorship disputes and cases, and the other providing a summary overview of my mediator qualifications and experience. Best to you, Dave Tate.

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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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Video – Dave Tate, Esq. Mediator Qualifications and Experience Introduction – California

Greetings to all of my friends, colleagues, and connections, and other people who are interested – below is a short video discussing my mediator qualifications and experience – please contact me if I can help you settle your case or dispute. Best to you, Dave Tate

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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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Working on Slides and a Video – You Can Resolve and Settle Your Conservatorship Dispute, Issues and Case

Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California) – dave@tateattorney.com – Litigation, Governance, Administrations, Investigations, Mediator & Conflict Resolution

Greetings All: I am working on some materials (slides and an anticipated video) which I have titled: You Can Resolve and Settle Your Conservatorship Dispute, Issues and Case. I am aiming for the materials will be completed by the beginning of next week.

In a conservatorship there are a lot of potential moving parts and issues, and relationships, and they can be present before the initiation of a conservatorship petition, during the initial petition stage, and at all later times including during review of a conservatorship that has been approved – for example, below are some of the potential moving parts, issues and relationships:

  • Are there options that are less restrictive than a conservatorship?
  • Is or will it be a conservatorship of the estate?
  • Is or will it be a conservatorship of the person?
  • Does the conservatee have or need an attorney?
  • Will it be a court trial or a jury trial?
  • Is who the conservator will be an issue?
  • Are there placement or housing issues?
  • Are there medical care and treatment, or related capacity issues?
  • Are there medication issues?
  • Are there daily living needs issues?
  • Are there caregiver issues?
  • Are there other issues re the proposed/conservatee’s capacity?
  • Are there conservator special power issues?
  • Who are all of the people who are involved in the dispute or unresolved issues?
  • Are there relationship issues between the people who are involved?
  • Are there spouse or domestic partner, or girlfriend or boyfriend issues?
  • Are there visitation issues?
  • Are there elder or dependent adult about issues – financial, physical, undue influence, emotional, abandonment, etc.?
  • Are there liquidity or sufficiency of assets issues?
  • Are there estate planning or benefits needs?
  • Are there voting issues?
  • Are there married or marrying issues?
  • What facts and circumstances and issues are fluid, i.e., changing (undoubtedly some are)?
  • What options are available for each of the issues that are in dispute or are unresolved?
  • And also consider the other areas, and related issues, from my mediation and conflict resolution hexagon matrix.

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California) – dave@tateattorney.com

Litigation, Governance, Administrations, Investigations, Mediator & Conflict Resolution

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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 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.

 

 

When do you not have the right to remain silent in conservatorship proceedings (Weintraub Tobin) – with Tate’s comments added

I have provided below a link to a Weintraub Tobin post about conservatorship proceedings and when a conservatee or prospective conservatee might have or might not have the right to remain silent (i.e., the right to not be compelled to testify). The post references Conservatorship of Bryan S. which was a LPS conservatorship; however, some of the same arguments might also be made in regular or general conservatorship proceedings.

A conservatorship proceeding is a state action in which the court is petitioned to order that there be a limitation on the conservatee’s freedom of choice or decision making, and in some circumstances the conservatee’s personal freedom of movement, or of living condition, or of right to not be medicated.

This post by Weintraub is also timely in light of the State of California’s initiative to use conservatorship proceedings more often.

As noted, in Conservatorship of Bryan S. the Court held that the prospective conservatee did not have the right to refuse to testify unless the questions and the answers thereto may incriminate the prospective conservatee in a criminal matter – and that question or issue, i.e., about possible incrimination, could be relevant for consideration in at least some conservatorship proceedings. And I also note that Conservatorship of Bryan S. involved only one Court of Appeals – other Court of Appeals might differ and at some point this issue might be brought up to the California Supreme Court.

You can find other posts about conservatorship proceedings throughout this blog – in the search box type in the word conservatorship.

The following is a link to the Weintraub Tobin discussion: https://www.weintraub.com/blogs/when-do-you-not-have-the-right-to-remain-silent-conservatorship-proceedings-and-equal-protection-clause-claims

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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

Conservatee right to live in personal residence, and sale of personal residence – new 2020 law changes – forwarding from Weintraub Tobin

The following is a link to a discussion by attorney Carlena Tapella at Weintraub Tobin about two new conservatee personal residence rights beginning in 2020. https://www.weintraub.com/blogs/theres-no-place-like-home-heightened-evidentiary-standard-for-moving-conservatees-from-their-personal-residence

As discussed by Ms. Tapella, under present law it is presumed that the personal residence of the conservatee is the least restrictive and most appropriate residence where the conservatee should live. But beginning in 2020 that presumption can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence, which is a significantly higher standard. Amended Probate Code Section 2352.5 will in part read: “In any hearing to determine if removal of the conservatee from the conservatee’s personal residence is appropriate, that presumption may be overcome by clear and convincing evidence.” And the petitioner or conservator also will be required to determine and establish the appropriate level of care, including the most appropriate residence. Amended Section 2352.5 will also in part read that: If the conservatee is living at a location other than the conservatee’s personal residence at the commencement of the proceeding, that determination shall either include a plan to return the conservatee to their personal residence or an explanation of the limitations or restrictions on a return of the conservatee to their personal residence in the foreseeable future.”

In recent years several California Court decisions have significantly increased the rights of conservatees and prospective conservatees, including, for example, the right to a jury trial on at least some of the conservatorship issues. You should also be aware that a conservatee and a prospective conservatee also have the right to oppose the conservatorship and the conditions of the conservatorship, and also the right to be represented by an attorney – and in appropriate circumstances the Court will appoint an attorney to represent the conservatee or prospective conservatee. The Courts have recognized that a conservatorship proceeding is an action in which the person who has filed the petition is requesting the Court (the State or government) to limit or to take away or to restrict some of the prospective conservatee’s constitutional rights and rights to personal freedom and freedom of choice and decision making. You will see in some of my prior blog posts discussions about certain aspects of conservatorships.

At the link above Ms. Tapella also discusses 2020 changes that put restrictions on the sale of the conservatee’s residence. Amended Probate Code Section 2540 will in part read: “In seeking authorization to sell a conservatee’s present or former personal residence, the conservator shall notify the court that the present or former personal residence is proposed to be sold and that the conservator has discussed the proposed sale with the conservatee . . . . and whether the conservatee supports or is opposed to the proposed sale and shall describe the circumstances that necessitate the proposed sale, including whether the conservatee has the ability to live in the personal residence and why other alternatives, including, but not limited to, in-home care services, are not available. The court, in its discretion, may require the court investigator to discuss the proposed sale with the conservatee.”

The law of conservatorships, and conservatorship proceedings and administrations, including the responsibilities and rights of conservatees and conservators, continue to become more specialized and complicated, and conservatee rights continue to increase and be recognized by the California Legislature and by the Courts.

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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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Another disturbing nursing home story, in addition the Florida IRMA SNF deaths – need for ERM, leadership, transparency, reporting, and follow-up

I have also posted this discussion at http://lawriskgov.com

Below, at the bottom of this blog, I have pasted a video at a nursing home that I came across on Yahoo. First some disclaimers – by now we should all be aware that watching snippets or portions of a video does not tell the whole story, knowing the whole story could present a different situation, we don’t know all that was said or that occurred, and, of course, I have no personal knowledge of these events, but am simply passing this along.

That having been said, the video and information presented are disturbing.

At her deposition the supervising nurse testified that what occurred is different than what the video shows, and acknowledges or admits this, and she admits that the nurses or nursing assistants on scene acted wrongfully and should have been fired if the truth had been known.

If not for the video the truth would not have come to light.

An issue arose whether it was legal to install a secret video recording device in the resident’s room. It is my understanding that a nursing home resident is a resident, not a patient, and that the nursing home, and their particular room is their home.

The lawyer mentions that he cannot say anything about the settlement agreement with the nursing home. In California, except in limited circumstances, Code of Civil Procedure §2017.310 makes a confidential settlement agreement unlawful if the factual foundation presents a case of elder or dependent adult abuse.

California also has a criminal elder abuse statute at Penal Code §368. I’m not saying that the acts in the video were criminal – based on what is being shown, in a court of law more likely the acts would be considered medical malpractice in nature, but could still be civil elder abuse.

The nursing home would raise a whole host of defenses to liability, including, for example, possibly, that the plaintiffs or prosecution cannot show with evidence that the actions of the nursing home actually caused the resident’s death. But there also could be issues about burden of proof, and it is possible that the burden of showing no wrongful conduct could be shifted to the defendant nursing home.

We could go on and on with this. There is a lot more that I would like to know, including, for example, about the policies and procedures of the nursing home at the time of the incident, and about the investigation that the nursing home did at the time of the incident and whether that investigation, if any was done, was sufficient and performed appropriately and in good faith?

I would also like to know about the “new management” of the nursing home, and about current policies and procedures, and whether the events of this occurrence were presented to the public or kept secret by the state nursing home regulatory authorities.

These stories and what occurs later in time get buried by the now constant 24 hour news and social media cycle – do you remember the hurricane IRMA story about the 8 nursing home residents who died because the air conditioning went out, but then weren’t transferred by the nursing home to a safe facility (such as, for example, possibly the nearby hospital) – well . . . what has happened since that time in the investigation, and so that something like that will not occur again?

That’s all for now. I’m David Tate. I’m a California litigation attorney. I also handle governance and risk management. You need to consult with an attorney or appropriate professional about your situation. This blog post and/or video or audio is not an advertisement or solicitation for services inside or outside of California. Thanks for listening or reading.

Here is the link to the nursing home video,

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/disturbing-video-shows-dying-wwii-vet-neglected-nursing-home-193149764.html

David Tate, Esq., Royse Law Firm, Menlo Park, California office, with offices in northern and southern California. http://rroyselaw.com

See also my blogs at http://lawriskgov.com and at http://auditcommitteeupdate.com

Royse Law Firm – Practice Area Overview – 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 because this is my primary area of practice)
  •             Business
  •             Intellectual Property – Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets
  •             Trade Secrets, NDA, Accounting Issues, Fraud, Lost Income, Royalties, Etc.
  •             Privacy, Internet, Hacking, Speech, Etc.
  •             Labor and Employment
  •             Mergers & Acquisitions
  •             Real Estate
  •             Owner, Founder, Investor, Board & Committee, Shareholder, D&O, Etc.
  •             Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith
  •             Lender/Debtor
  •             Investigations
  •             Trust, Estate, Conservatorship, Elder Abuse, and Contentious Administrations
  • Real Estate
  • Tax (US and International) and Tax Litigation
  • Technology Companies and Transactions Including AgTech, HealthTech, Etc.
  • Wealth and Estate Planning, Trust and Estate Administration, and Disputes and Litigation

Audit Committee 5 Lines of Defense 10222017 David W. Tate, Esq. jpg

 

 

New California case expands shifting trust/trustee attorneys’ fees and costs to a beneficiary’s share of the trust

New California trust dispute decision expands shifting trust/trustee attorneys’ fees and costs to a beneficiary’s share of the trust – Pizarro v. Reynoso, California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, Case No. C077594, (March 28, 2017)

Summary. The decision in Pizarro v. Reynoso expands the shifting of trust/trustee attorneys’ fees and costs to a beneficiary’s trust share, and in relevant part reminds us that all trust and estate litigation cases vary and are determined in significant part by the facts and circumstances of that case, the relevant case law, and the discretion of the trial court judge. In Pizarro v. Reynoso, on appeal the Court of Appeal held as follows:

  1. The terms and intent of the trustor prevail in substance – refusing to elevate form over substance the court upheld a sale of the trust real property to a specific beneficiary which the trust authorized in the trustee’s discretion if the beneficiary could afford to purchase the house. The trustee in fact in part assisted the beneficiary in that purchase so that the beneficiary could purchase the property – never the less the court upheld the sale based on substance over form and the intent and terms of the trust.
  2. Under the court’s equitable powers, the attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by the trust/trustee are chargeable against the trust share of a beneficiary who brings an unfounded proceeding against the trust, but those attorneys’ fees and costs cannot be awarded against the beneficiaries other personal non-trust assets, citing Rudnick v. Rudnick (2009) 179 Cal. App. 4th 1328, 1332-1333, 1335, and Estate of Ivey (1994) 22 Cal. App. 4th 873, 877-878, 882-886.
  3. Important – in an expansion of #2 above and charging fees and costs to a beneficiary’s trust share, under those same equitable powers, the court also can award the trust/trustee attorneys’ fees and costs against the trust share of a beneficiary who has not filed or brought a proceed, but who takes an unfounded position and litigates in bad faith causing the trust to incur fees and costs (the beneficiary changed her position to being against the trustee, and in the trial court’s opinion then offered false testimony by declaration, deposition and at trial – offering false evidence in litigation is a bad faith litigation tactic).
  4. The court’s decision also cites or makes reference to California Probate Code §17211(a) and §15642(d), which state as follows (and I have also provided below §17211(b):

17211(a)

(a) If a beneficiary contests the trustee’s account and the court determines that the contest was without reasonable cause and in bad faith, the court may award against the contestant the compensation and costs of the trustee and other expenses and costs of litigation, including attorney’s fees, incurred to defend the account. The amount awarded shall be a charge against any interest of the beneficiary in the trust. The contestant shall be personally liable for any amount that remains unsatisfied.

(b) If a beneficiary contests the trustee’s account and the court determines that the trustee’s opposition to the contest was without reasonable cause and in bad faith, the court may award the contestant the costs of the contestant and other expenses and costs of litigation, including attorney’s fees, incurred to contest the account. The amount awarded shall be a charge against the compensation or other interest of the trustee in the trust. The trustee shall be personally liable and on the bond, if any, for any amount that remains unsatisfied.

15642(d)

(d) If the court finds that the petition for removal of the trustee was filed in bad faith and that removal would be contrary to the settlor’s intent, the court may order that the person or persons seeking the removal of the trustee bear all or any part of the costs of the proceeding, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

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Everyday is elder abuse prevention day – video cartoon – please pass it along

Here’s a different presentation approach – please do pass it along to your contacts and people who would be interested. This is an important topic that needs more discussion. Thank you. Dave Tate, Esq. (San Francisco and California)