Trusts and Estates

Estate of Kirk Kerkorian

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Cite as B283132
Filed January 19, 2018, Second District, Div. Five

By Daniel C. Kim
Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation

Kerkorian executed a will in July 2013 and married Una Davis about a year later. Two days prior to the wedding, he gave Anthony Mandekic $10 million dollars with instructions to give the money to Davis outside of Kerkorian’s estate or any testamentary transfer, and Mandekic complied. The day before the wedding, Davis signed a waiver, relinquishing any right to Kerkorian’s estate, including the right of an omitted spouse. Kerkorian died a year later, and his will did not name Davis as a beneficiary. Davis filed a petition seeking a distribution as an omitted spouse. As executor, Mandekic petitioned for court approval to oppose Davis’s petition pursuant to Probate Code section 11704. The court granted Mandekic’s petition finding, inter alia, that Mandekic was familiar with the estate and Kerkorian’s intentions; that he had no financial interest having already received his distribution and he was not otherwise improperly motivated; and that his participation would be helpful in determining the rightful beneficiaries in accordance with Kerkorian’s intent.

The appellate court affirmed. On appeal, Davis argued that the lower court had misapplied section 11704 in granting Mandekic’s petition for approval to oppose Davis’s petition. Specifically, Davis argued that the lower court had failed to make an express finding that Mandekic’s participation was “necessary to assist the court.” However, the appellate court held that such an express finding of “necessity” was unnecessary because a “good cause” finding under section 11704 naturally i ncorporated a contemplated level of necessary assistance by the petitioning party. The appellate court further found that the Legislature intended the term “necessary” to mean “useful” or “appropriate” and that the lower court had not abused its discretion in finding good cause.

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