California Lawyers Association, Trusts and Estates

Trusts & Estates Section Amicus Brief Echoed In California Supreme Court Decision In Barefoot V. Jennings

The Court’s Unanimous Opinion Follows the Section’s Framing of Issues and Arguments

January 27, 2020

Carton of a courtroom, male presenting to a judge.

The California Lawyers Association (CLA) is pleased to announce that its position in its first ever¬†amicus brief¬†was confirmed by the California Supreme Court in the recent¬†Barefoot v. Jennings¬†opinion.¬†The brief, filed by CLA’s Trusts and Estates Section, addressed issues of standing in revocable trust cases as dictated by the Probate Code.

At issue was whether a disinherited beneficiary has standing to challenge in probate court the validity of a revocable trust’s disinheriting amendments on grounds of incompetence, undue influence, or fraud. The opinion, authored by Justice Chin, is a unanimous reversal of the Court of Appeal’s judgment and confirms that under the Probate Code a person who was disinherited indeed has standing in probate court to bring a challenge to the validity of the trust amendments that resulted in their disinheritance.

“Our successful amicus brief in Barefoot demonstrates CLA’s extraordinary expertise and the deep bench of legal talent among our members. I am incredibly proud of our Trusts and Estates Section and look forward to other amicus briefs filed by CLA,” said Ona Alston Dosunmu, CLA’s CEO.

The brief was drafted by Howard Kipnis, Herbert Stroh, Ciar√°n O’Sullivan, and Bryan Phipps. Leah Spero of CLA’s Amicus Committee and Greg Wolff of CLA’s Committee on Appellate Courts provided invaluable assistance along the way. Many others were involved (including the entire Executive Committee of the Trusts and Estates Section and Saul Bercovitch, CLA’s Director of Governmental Affairs) in formulating the ultimate product.

About the CLA Trusts and Estates Section

CLA’s Trusts and Estates Section and its over 6,000 members further the knowledge of practitioners in the areas of trusts and estate laws through educational opportunities, monitor and actively participate in the formation of laws and regulations that impact trusts and estates laws, and represent section members in the governance of CLA.

About California Lawyers Association

Established in 2018, California Lawyers Association is the bar association for all California attorneys. CLA’s mission is to promote excellence, diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law.

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