We often see siblings litigate in California over the allocation of tangible personal property held in the family trust. When Mom and Dad have passed, the tug of war may involve jewelry, paintings, photos, firearms, furniture, saddles, vehicles, table settings – and yes, even a bobble head!

My colleague Kim McGhee recently hosted a fun

We write today about probate law, premarital agreements and the importance of doing your homework.

In Estate of Eskra (2022) 78 Cal.App.5th 209, the First District Court of Appeal upheld a Humboldt County Superior Court decision to enforce as valid a premarital agreement that a surviving spouse signed without reading.  How did the surviving

Daniel Spector has litigated trust and estate cases in Northern California since the early 1990s. He is now focusing his practice on mediating trust and estate disputes across California, working with Judicate West. Dan is a colleague on the Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section of the California Lawyers Association, and I

If Dad bought a house solely in his name, can Stepmother claim a community property interest after Dad has died? Perhaps yes. The answer lies at tricky intersections of California probate law and family law. While family law governs spouses during their lifetimes and upon divorce, the death of one spouse complicates the picture.  It

While Disneyland may be the “Happiest Place on Earth,” a California probate court may be the opposite for a Disney heir, mused the U.S. Court of Appeals in Lund v. Cowan (9th Cir. 2021) 5 F.4th 964. Bradford Lund, a 50 year-old grandson of Walt Disney, sued the probate judge who rejected a settlement

(Editor’s Notes: Lauren Murvihill is a summer associate at Downey Brand. She is a student at UC Davis School of Law.  In September 2021, after publication of this post, the Governor approved Senate Bill 315.)

The thrifty do-it-yourselfers among us might jump at the opportunity to transfer their family home to their kids while avoiding

As we enter the New Year, it’s a good time to revisit your estate plan.  The big question is whether your will, trust, power of attorney, and advance health care directive accomplish your personal objectives.  Guidance from an estate planner will help you review your plan in light of tax and other changes in the

Many California trust and estate disputes involve the allocation of real estate amongst several beneficiaries.  Mom and Dad, may they rest in peace, owned an upscale home in the Fab 40s neighborhood of East Sacramento, a sweet Tahoe vacation home, and a few rental duplexes, but did not specify how these assets were to

The COVID-19 pandemic has idled workers and the coming weeks will bring more news of business closures and bankruptcies.  After a decade of sustained growth, we are facing a recession of uncertain depth and duration.  The New York Times recently reported that some Americans are turning (or perhaps returning) to “financial therapy” for support.

In

It’s unremarkable that California courts require that notice be given to affected beneficiaries in trust and probate proceedings.  After all, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that no person will be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process.  While contingent beneficiaries may not have received an inheritance yet, they may someday and so should know if someone’s trying to tamper with their potential payday.  But how far do notice requirements really go?  Must notice be given to beneficiaries who likely won’t ever get a nickel?

The California Court of Appeal wrestled with this issue in Roth v. Jelley (2020) 45 Cal.App.5th 655, and held that beneficiaries who will only receive an inheritance upon the happening of an event (i.e., contingent beneficiaries) have a property interest in an inheritance and are therefore entitled to notice under constitutional due process requirements.