Trusts and Estates
Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly 2020, Volume 26, Issue 3
- Dude, I Inherited a Pot Farm, Man! (Considerations For Marijuana-related Businesses For T&E Lawyers)
- Chairs of Section Subcommittees
- Editorial Board
- From the Chair
- From the Editors-in-chief
- Inside this Issue:
- Litigation Alert
- The New Ethics Committee of the California Lawyers Association: An Active First Year!
- Tips of the Trade: Pennies From Heaven: Inventorying, Valuing, and Distributing Coin Collections
- Application of "Spousal Consent Rules" To Community Property Individual Retirement Accounts
- Contested Nonprobate Transfers: When the Estate Plan Trumps
CONTESTED NONPROBATE TRANSFERS: WHEN THE ESTATE PLAN TRUMPS
By Matthew R. Owens, Esq.*
The modern trend in California of bending title rules to accommodate evidence of the decedent’s testamentary intent opens wide the probate court doors to litigation over nonprobate transfers. Financial accounts not titled in the name of the trust historically passed to the account’s joint surviving owner, payee, or beneficiary, avoiding probate and bypassing the trust administration. Banks and other financial institutions simply honored their contractual obligation with the decedent and transferred the funds to the person named on the account’s signature card or other title document. But Probate Code section 5302 contains an exception to the default rules on nonprobate transfers, if a party contesting the nonprobate transfer can prove by clear-and-convincing evidence the decedent intended the account to pass to someone else. The question then becomes what exactly constitutes clear-and-convincing evidence of the decedent’s contrary intent.