One of the biggest misconceptions in California trust litigation concerns the effectiveness of no contest clauses.  This article explains no contest clauses and their limited effectiveness in California trust and estate litigation. _________________ A “no contest clause,” according to California Probate Code section 21310(c), is “a provision in an otherwise valid instrument that, if enforced, would…

Edge #1 The current litigation involving billionaire media magnate Sumner Redstone illustrates the point.  Mr. Redstone, age 93, owns about 80 percent of CBS and Viacom—reportedly a $40 billion media empire.  In November 2015, Mr. Redstone’s former “companion,” Manuela Herzer, challenged Mr. Redstone’s mental capacity in Los Angeles Superior Court.  Ms. Herzer alleged that Mr….

Many estate and trust litigation cases could be avoided if non-professional trustees understood the benefits of preparing a trust accounting. The Role of Trustee Trustees must make the beneficiaries aware of the existence of the trust, keep them informed of the administration, and respond to their reasonable requests for information.  The duty to account is more…

In the midst of a trust contest or other trust-related litigation, it’s easy for trustees to forget that their duties to the contesting beneficiaries continue notwithstanding the ongoing litigation.  A trustee might assume his or her position and immediately face litigation (a demand for an accounting, an emergency conservatorship, or a challenge to the trust,…

Although most trust, estate, and elder abuse cases eventually settle, we prepare each case as if it will go to trial.  All of the stages previously described in this series (from initial research through discovery and expert witness depositions) have the same objective — presenting the best possible case at trial. Trust and estate cases…

Preparing for trial in an estate or trust litigation case can be an intense and time consuming process for attorneys and clients.  Although preparing for trial begins the moment we are retained, the process intensifies in the last few weeks before trial as the evidence accumulated during the discovery process is marshaled and organized into…

The “fiscal cliff” crisis of Christmas of 2012 culminated in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.  The Act made permanent the “portability” law contained in a previous law passed in 2010. Portability allows a surviving spouse to claim the unused estate tax credit of a predeceased spouse.  The “estate tax credit” or “estate tax…

Dear Friends, I’m pleased to announce that I have formed a new firm with one of my oldest friends.  The new firm, Barr & Young, will remain in our current office in Danville and we will continue to do what we have always done – estate and trust litigation, estate planning and administration, elder abuse…

Although in most cases litigants are not required to hire an attorney, if you have read the previous posts in this series, you will not be surprised that we counsel against “doing it yourself.” This guidance is not directed primarily at clients who have been served with a complaint or petition, as most people call…

The exaggerated title of this article is aimed at managing the expectations of potential clients.  A victim of fraud, elder abuse, or undue influence naturally wants their property returned; but they also often want the defendant to pay punitive damages.  Clients accused of breach of trust or some other wrongdoings want the allegations proven untrue,…

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