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 […]

Surviving Spouse Rights in California

California law grants surviving spouses a number of important rights and benefits. With short deadlines in probate, it is important to effectively secure the rights of a surviving spouse within the timelines provided by statute to ensure the surviving spouse is protected and receives all he or she is  entitled to under California law.   […]

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 […]

Joint Bank Account Litigation and Pay On Death Disputes

Aging parents often add an adult child to joint accounts to make it easier from them to help manage assets or pay bills. However, this well-intentioned step can lead to unintended consequences in California when the parent passes away. In such cases, the surviving child, as the joint account holder, may receive the entire account […]

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 […]