Trusts and Estates

Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly 2019, Volume 25, Issue 2


By Mary K. deLeo, Esq.,* and Matthew W. McMurtrey, Esq.**

By the time you read this issue, we will be standing on the edge of summer, its attendant balmy weather and sundrenched evenings just ahead, the cold and rainy days of winter happily consigned to the distant past. Change is good. It is also, inevitable—and nowhere is that better demonstrated than in the law, where practices and procedures can exist for years, even decades, only to be upended by a new and unexpected court decision.

Such, for many practitioners, was the case with Barefoot v. Jennings (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 1, in which the California Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, held that fully-disinherited trust beneficiaries cannot pursue a trust contest under Probate Code section 17200. Many practitioners were shocked as they had used section 17200 for that precise purpose for many years. Others were shocked that anyone was shocked given the express language of section 17200. The only thing for certain was that the Barefoot decision would be a decision of much discussion and dispute. And so it has proved.

The ramifications of the Barefoot decision are explored in depth in How Could I Dance with Another, When I Saw No Standing There? by author Julie R. Woods. As the article explains, the issue of standing in probate court is not as simple as it appears on the surface. Whichever side you stand on in the great Barefoot debate, this article may test your assumptions and give you a new perspective on this previously non-controversial issue.

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