California probate courts may appoint guardians ad litem (“GALs”) to represent the interests of those who cannot speak for themselves, including minors. While Probate Code section 1003 provides for the appointment of GALs, it does not speak to their removal. A recently published opinion, Chui v. Chui (2022) ___Cal. App. 5th ___ (“Chui II”)
California courts may appoint guardians ad litem as helping hands to act for those unable to make their own decisions in litigated cases because they are minors or incapacitated adults. For background, see our prior post.
Senate Bill 1279, effective January 1, 2023, clarifies and improves the rules governing the selection of guardians…
California trust disputes often involve the interests of parents and their minor children. Sometimes those interests conflict. When disputes are settled, who looks out for the interests of children under 18 years of age? Who checks that no child is left behind?
Probate judges, as explained in a prior post, may appoint a guardian…
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…
Most California trust and estate disputes involve adults who can make their own choices about what to seek and how hard to litigate, such as the common scenario of siblings competing for assets. But many disputes, or at least potential disagreements, involve people who can’t fend for themselves, such as mentally incapacitated adults, children…
A conservatorship, once ordered by a Superior Court judge in California, deprives a person of the right to control his or her financial affairs or person, or both. When the judge appoints counsel for the proposed conservatee, what is the lawyer’s role? Are the lawyer’s ordinary duties of loyalty and confidentiality diminished in the conservatorship setting? Should they be?
These are vexing questions that have led to varying approaches in California’s 58 counties. We sometimes represent siblings in contested conservatorship proceedings, typically in “parent custody” disputes when siblings are vying for control over Mom and/or Dad. The approach taken by court appointed counsel is an important factor in how these cases move forward and it would be helpful to all concerned to have a more uniform approach.
While financial elder abuse is a serious problem in California, not just anyone can sue to protect an abused elder. This is especially true if the elder does not want to bring suit in the first place. On April 19, 2017, the California Court of Appeal reinforced an important issue related to standing to bring financial elder abuse claims in the case of Tepper v. Wilkins (2017) __ Cal.App.5th __. While an elder is still alive, only the elder or a qualified “personal representative” has standing to file suit for financial elder abuse.
Elder financial abuse is all too common in Sacramento County and elsewhere. The abuser, often a family member or caregiver, drains away the resources of an elder or dependent adult who cannot work to replenish them. By the time the theft is discovered, the money may be long gone and the victim may be saddled with debt. What can the victim do?
In a recent post, I commented on how often elder financial abuse cases often go unprosecuted in California, to the chagrin of victims and their families. A week after that post, the California Department of Insurance announced the conviction in Placer County Superior Court of Christine Ann Cooper, who was arrested in Sacramento County and ultimately sentenced to 18 months in jail after embezzling approximately $129,000 from her mother’s trust accounts. According to the Department, Cooper wrote checks to herself from the accounts over a nine-year period and falsified records to conceal her thefts.
Contact with local law enforcement eventually may result in prosecution, but victims and their advocates should take a multi-faceted approach.
Acting as a trustee can be a thankless and time consuming job, especially when the reward at the end is nothing more than second-guessing from trust beneficiaries. In our Sacramento-based trust and estate practice, we represent trustees who have strained relationships with beneficiaries, whether their siblings, step-relatives, or otherwise. One useful tool to help trustees manage those relationships is the Notice of Proposed Action.
The notice procedure allows a trustee to obtain immunity from breach of trust claims without (1) obtaining an order from a California probate court, or (2) waiting three years for the statute of limitations on breach of trust claims to run.