Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP wins at Probate Trial in Ventura County

Successfully fighting for our clients and no fear of taking matters to trial if necessary!

Ginzbug & Bronshteyn, LLP, is proud to share that firm partner Yasha Bronshteyn obtained a trial verdict in the Ventura County Superior Court in September of 2017 concerning a partition of real estate matter filed in the Ventura County Probate Court, which also involved allegations of undue influence by named beneficiaries and successor trustee of a family trust and lack of capacity by the settlor / decedent when creating the trust documents.

The major focus of defending the trust and trustee was applying the appropriate legal standards: “For purposes of this part [concerning capacity], there shall exist a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof that all persons have capacity to make decisions and to be responsible for their acts and decisions.” Probate Code section 810(a).

“A person who has a mental disorder or physical disorder may still be capable of contracting, conveying, marrying, making medical decisions, executing wills and trusts, and performing other actions.” Probate Code section 810(b).

“[T]he standard for testamentary capacity is exceptionally low.” In re Marriage of Greenway (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 628, 642.  Mental capacity can be measured on a sliding scale, with testamentary capacity at the low end of the scale, requiring the least amount of capacity, second only to marriage, with the capacity  to enter into contracts at the high end.  Id. Trust amendments typically are not complex; they are indistinguishable from wills and codicils, and thus the same standard applies. Anderson v. Hunt (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th  722.  In determining capacity to execute a trust amendment that “in its content and complexity, closely resembles a will or codicil,” such as the amendment in this case, the courts have held that the lower mental capacity standard for the making of a will should apply. Id., 729-731; Lentz v. Lentz (2014) 222 Cal.4th 1346, 1351-1352; § 6100.5.)

“[U]ndue influence must be proven by clear and convincing evidence” (ibid.), that is, by evidence “sufficiently strong to command the unhesitating assent of every reasonable mind.” In re Angelia P. (1981) 28 Cal.3d 908, 919.  “[T]he party contesting a testamentary disposition bears the burden of proving undue influence” and “[u]ndue influence must be proven by clear and convincing evidence.” Conservatorship of Davidson (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 1035, 1059, disapproved on other grounds in Bernard v. Foley (2005) 39 Cal.4th 794, 816, fn. 14; § 8252(a).

The “heavy burden of proof” imposed on the contestant is the highest there is in civil cases: clear and convincing evidence. Doolittle v. Exchange Bank (2015) 241 Ca1.App.4th 529, 545-546  [“[u]ndue influence must be proven by clear and convincing evidence”].)

Capacity and undue influence are also common themes  in Conservatorship matters.  Other common issues in conservatorship matters include:  Is the Proposed Conservatee able to properly provide for his or her personal needs for physical health, medical care, food, clothing and shelter?  Cal. Prob. Code § 1801(a)?  Is the Proposed Conservatee substantially unable to manage his or her financial resources or to resist fraud or undue influence?  Cal. Prob. Code § 1801(b)?

We have developed a reputation for effective representation in complex and sophisticated matters as we guide you through the complex legal process. We are experienced in obtaining and defending against conservatorships. Conservatorships, while intended to exist for the benefit of the protected person, can sometimes become complicated and contentious. If you find yourself in a conservatorship that has become legally combative, consult the conservatorship attorneys at Ginzburg & Bronshteyn. Our experienced Los Angeles conservatorship attorneys are here to help clients in Santa Monica, Ventura County, Orange County, Northern California and throughout Southern California defend their rights under the law. To contact our skilled attorneys, please contact Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP online or call us at (310) 914-3222, (714) 280-0601, or (818) 787-1011.

We are here to help you and your loved ones.  To discuss your needs and discover your options, consult the Los Angeles incapacity, conservatorship,  and estate planning attorneys at Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP.  We serve clients in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, and throughout Southern and Northern California including Agoura Hills, Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Encino, Hidden Hills, Irvine, Lake Sherwood, Marin County, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Oxnard, Palo Alto, Pasadena, San Francisco, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Monica, Simi Valley, Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, Ventura, West Los Angeles, and Woodland Hills. Our attorneys are renowned for producing high quality work and working diligently to achieve our client’s goals. We have developed a reputation for effective representation in complex and sophisticated matters as we guide you through the complex legal process. We are experienced in obtaining and defending against conservatorships. Contact us by calling (310) 914-3222 in Los Angeles, or (818) 787-1011 in Westlake Village, (714) 280-0601 in Orange County or by using our online contact form.