What is probate in California?

Probate in California is a legal proceeding used to distribute a decedent’s assets. The California probate process is also used to pay decedent’s debts. The court overseeing the probate makes sure that the decedent’s assets are distributed according to decedent’s will or California law.  Is probate required in California? Probate is not always required in […]

What is community property in California?

Community property laws have a dramatic impact on the rights of surviving spouses.  Presently nine, mostly western states, have a community property system in place.  Those community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, and Wisconsin (sort of). What is Community Property? Community property is everything a husband and wife acquire while married. Most community property states will classify the following […]

Can you appeal a probate court decision in California?

Yes, you can appeal a California probate court decision. What kind of California probate court decisions can be appealed? General Probate Orders California Probate Codes section 1300 governs appealable orders in probate generally and permits appeals from the making of, or refusal to make, any of the following orders: (a) Directing, authorizing, approving, or confirming the […]

What Are The Grounds to Remove a Personal Representative in a California Probate?

Ideally, a personal representative acts like a responsible fiduciary and efficiently and ethically administers the estate.  If a California personal representative does not meet their fiduciary obligations, however, there are several grounds to remove a personal representative in California probate. Grounds for removing a personal representative from office in a California probate Section 8502 of […]

No Contest Clauses In California Expand to Defense of Invalid Trust

In Key v. Tyler, 34 Cal. App. 5th 505 (2019), a California appellate court held that a trustee’s defense of an invalid trust amendment, if made without probable cause, can activate a no contest clause and result in disinheritance.  This hurt, because the trust at issue was worth over $70 million. What is a no contest […]

Are Oral Promises Enforceable Against an Estate in California?

In Spears v. Spears, A164622 (1st App. 2023), the Court of Appeals of the State of California considered the question of when is an oral promise enforceable against an estate in California.  In the decision, filed December 19, 2023, the Court analyzed reviewed a trial court’s dismissal of a creditor’s claim against the trustee of a […]

Who Has Standing to Challenge a Trust? The California Supreme Court Decides

The California Supreme Court, in the January 23, 2020 opinion of Barefoot v. Jennings, held that the California Probate Code grants standing in probate court to individuals who claim that trust amendments eliminating their beneficiary status arose from incompetence, undue influence, or fraud.  This decision reversed the California Court of Appeals decision that a prior beneficiary lacked standing […]

Trust Protector Not Entitled to Accountings in California

A recent California appellate decision sets forth some limitations on the powers and duties of a trust protector, determining that a trust protector is not entitled to an accounting. What is a Trust Protector? A trust protector is a person charged with overseeing the performance of a trustee.  The most important power that a trust […]

When Can Trustees Represent Themselves in Court?

Non-attorney trustees in California are permitted to represent themselves in court in California if they are not engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Division Two of the California Court of Appeals clarified the distinction between when trustees can and cannot represent themselves in the April 2020 case of Donkin v. Donkin. The Donkin Trustees Filed […]

Common Terms Under the California Probate Code

Probate law can be confusing, and many of the terms used by California probate practitioners are unfamiliar to a layperson.  The California probate code defines over 65 terms under sections 20-88 of the California Probate Code.  Some of the most used terms in California probate estates are explained below. What Is A Beneficiary In California Probate? California Probate […]