New California Case – Gregge v. Hugill – Probate Code Section 17200 Petition Improperly Dismissed, And Policy Favors Trials And Determinations On The Issues And The Claims Alleged

On July 14, 2016, the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District issued its decision in Gregge v. Hugill, Case No. HO40663. Viewed most simply, the Court determined that Appellant had standing to bring his petition under California Probate Code section 17200 in which he alleged lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence and elder abuse, and that Probate Code section 17202 and another beneficiary’s disclaimer did not operate to defeat or eliminate Appellant’s pecuniary interest and standing to bring his petition and for trial thereon.

But viewed in its entirety, the decision in Gregge v. Hugill affirms policies that favor a party’s entitlement to a determination on the issues and the claims alleged, arguably disfavors claim forfeiture arguments, and affirms that estate planning document, i.e., will and trust, and inheritance contest determinations and findings should be based on the decedent’s intent.

The following are six snapshots from the opinion in Gregge v. Hugill which will provide you with some of the Court’s insight (the first snapshot is only of the case caption).

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Request for evidentiary hearing and trial in a probate department proceeding?

There are additional procedural requests or demands that I sometimes, perhaps often, make in probate department proceedings. Every case is different, of course, so you do need to evaluate procedural and strategic options for your particular situation. However, whereas in a civil action the court will eventually set the dispute for a trial, in probate the judge can in some circumstances rule from the bench without a hearing where witnesses are presented. So you do want to consider whether you want to protect or reserve your evidentiary hearing or trial entitlement. And there are also additional requests or demands that might be considered relating to the presentation or admissibility of evidence. Nevertheless, the following is possible wording requesting an evidentiary hearing, which you can add to your court-filed and served pleadings prior to the hearing:


__. __________ incorporates by reference herein paras. 1-__ stated above as if fully restated in this para. __.

__. __________ further requests an evidentiary hearing and trial for all disputed matters in this case, and a jury trial to the extent that a jury trial is allowable.