Here’s another reason (uno más in Spanish) to create and properly execute a will. If your spouse or other trusted designee lives out of the country when you die, he or she won’t be eligible to administer your California estate. The recent case of Estate of El Wardani (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 870, involving
Blast from the Past – Trusts Subject to Medi-Cal Reimbursement
We begin the year with a case, Riverside County Public Guardian v. Snukst (2022) ___ Cal.App.5th ___, involving an elder with dementia who received Medi-Cal benefits.
The case, a blast from the past, illustrates how the State of California, under the law in effect until several years ago, could recoup the cost of such…
How Does Amended California Emergency Rule 9 Affect Probate Proceedings?
(Editor’s Note: The example in the post below has been revised.)
California causes of action are subject to various statutes of limitation. Unless a plaintiff or petitioner files a complaint or other document asserting a cause of action within the applicable limitations period, the filing will be deemed time barred and subject to dismissal. Under some circumstances, however, statutes of limitation may be tolled or suspended so as to extend the filing period.
When the COVID-19 pandemic caused court closures, the California Judicial Council responded with Emergency Rule 9, which tolled the statutes of limitation for civil actions from March 6, 2020 until 90 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency, which will not occur until an unknown future date.
The initial emergency rule, issued April 6, has now been revised and partially clarified. As California courts began to reopen in May, the Judicial Council chose to put a clearer endpoint on the tolling of limitations periods. A memorandum from the Judicial Council provides background on the amended rule.…
Beware of Dormant Creditor Claims in California Probate Cases
California’s probate process aims to expeditiously identify and resolve the claims of creditors against decedents. Creditors who are unsophisticated, or who simply do not learn of the decedent’s passing, may find themselves with an uncollectable claim against an otherwise solvent estate. You snooze, you lose.
On the other hand, once a creditor makes a claim in a California probate case, the claim can lie dormant like an oak tree in winter and later come to life to interfere with the distribution of the decedent’s assets. That’s the lesson of Estate of Holdaway (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 1059, published by the Court of Appeal this month.…
California Plaintiff Who Sues Decedent’s Insurer Can Recover Costs on Top of Policy Limits
It’s generally not easy to sue a deceased person’s estate in California. In most cases, claimants must file a creditor’s claim before proceeding with a lawsuit in the Superior Court, which may first require bringing a petition to open up probate of the decedent’s estate. Claimants must move quickly given the one-year statute of limitations under California Code of Civil Procedure section 366.2.
In traffic accident situations, however, the claimant has a streamlined procedural path if he or she limits the claim to the auto insurance coverage held by the decedent. In such a case, under California Probate Code sections 550-555, the claimant effectively sues the insurance company, with the decedent’s estate only being a nominal defendant.
A recent appellate case from the Third District Court of Appeal, Meleski v. Estate of Albert Holden (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 616, strengthens the position of California accident victims by allowing them to obtain recoveries in excess of policy limits if the insurance carrier refuses to accept a settlement offer and the claimant then obtains a court judgment in excess of the offer. The decision should incentivize carriers to accept policy limits settlement offers.…
Take It or Leave It: The Perilous Decision of Whether to Violate a No Contest Clause
One of the most dramatic areas of California trust and estate litigation is no contest clauses. No contest clauses bring a made-for-tv excitement to the practice of trust and estate law because of the risk of disinheritance. Yet such clauses are widely misunderstood, even among attorneys.…
California Supreme Court Clarifies Creditor Access to Spendthrift Trusts
On March 23, 2017, at the request of a certified question from the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court answered the age-old question – “what gives”?
That is to say, what gives – the impenetrable wall of a spendthrift trust or the ability of a bankruptcy trustee to tap trust funds for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate? The answer is neither really, but our state Supreme Court did clarify the appropriate reach of creditors into trust-protected assets in light of what the Ninth Circuit observed as “opaque” statutory provisions in the California Probate Code.…
Where Credit Is Due – California Creditor Claims Against An Estate
Speak promptly or forever lose your rights. Creditor claims are an intricate area of California probate law that fills chapters in legal treatises. Fail to comply with the nuanced rules and you lose your claim against a decedent’s estate even if liability is otherwise rock solid. But what is a creditor claim and when is it required?
A creditor claim is a demand for payment that must be filed with the probate court and served on the personal representative (e.g., executor) of a decedent’s estate within a specified timeframe. Presentment of a creditor claim (and its rejection) is required before a lawsuit may be filed against the decedent’s estate. Moreover, if there is no pending probate case in the Superior Court, the creditor may have to take the initiative by opening a probate proceeding so as to create a case within which to present a claim.…