Trusts and Estates

2008 Case Alerts

Estate of Shellenbarger

Filed December 29, 2008 , Second District, Div. Six 
Cite as 2008 SOS 6957 
Cite as 2008 SOS 6890

Trusts and Estates

A probate court may not, on principles of equity, disinherit a natural parent from distribution in child’s estate when child died intestate. Failure to pay child support or lack of a meaningful parent-child relationship does not affect parent’s rights as an intestate heir.

Estate of Mooney

Filed December 22, 2008 , First District, Div. One

Trusts and Estates

Where testator attempted to devise residue of her estate to her sisters who predeceased her, California’s antilapse statute–which requires “issue of deceased transferee take in the transferee’s place” as provided by Probate Code Sec. 240, which requires residue to be “divided into as many equal shares as there are living members of the nearest generation of issue”–directed that intended devisees’ surviving adult children took by right of representation.

In re Marriage of Brooks and Robinson

Filed December 16, 2008 , Fourth District, Div. Two 
Cite as 2008 SOS 6705

Family Law

Where property was acquired by wife in wife’s class=”anchor” name only, property was presumptively wife’s separate property as a matter of law, but husband could rebut presumption by clear and convincing evidence of an agreement or understanding between spouses that property was to be held as community property or husband’s separate property. Fact that parties were married when wife acquired property had no bearing on whether spouses had an agreement or understanding regarding property. Presumption could not be overcome by tracing source of funds used to purchase property nor husband’s unilateral belief he owned property. Having a reason for allowing title to be taken solely in wife’s class=”anchor” name did not diminish inference that parties intended property to be wife’s separate property.

Hoopes v. Dolan

Filed November 12, 2008 , First District, Div. Four 
Cite as 2008 SOS 6124

Civil Procedure

Trial court erred in making a wholly independent evaluation of trial evidence and rejecting jury’s findings of fact when fashioning equitable relief founded on same evidence and same operative facts as jury’s verdict. In a mixed trial of legal and equitable issues where legal issues are first tried to a jury, court must follow jury’s factual determinations on common issues of fact. Where legal causes of action and equitable defense were founded on distinct facts, jury’s factual determinations on legal claims were not binding. Trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling upon equitable issues after submitting matter for jury determination.

Aguilar v. Aguilar

Filed November 6, 2008 , Fourth District, Div. Three 
Cite as 2008 SOS 6103

Trusts and Estates

Where husband and wife entered into an inter vivos trust that became irrevocable upon death of either spouse, wife could not withdraw her share of community property from trust after husband’s death. Joint trust was irrevocable following husband’s death and precluded wife from withdrawing any property. Irrevocable trusts are binding, even on their trustors.

Estate of Felder

Filed October 9, 2008, Second District, Div. Five 
Cite as 2008 SOS 5706

Trusts and Estates

Where purchaser defaulted on agreement to buy property from estate and property was resold at a lower price, Probate Code Sec. 10350(e)(1) authorized probate court to award estate damages in an amount equal to difference between defaulting and successful purchase prices. Because estate was entitled to retain defaulted buyer’s deposit as statutory award for damages, it made no legal difference that deposit amount covered both estate’s interest in property and that of co-owner because Sec.10350(e)(1) did not authorize a pro rata share of damages based on sellers’ respective interests in the property.

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