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.