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Orange County Litigation Law Blog

Misbehaving Trustees are a Common Source of Trust Disputes

Buffington Law Firm's Trust dispute attorneys have broad experience in dealing with cases in which a trust successor-trustee is failing to properly carry out his or her duties as trustee.  As many people know, trusts are a legal device that can allow a decedent's estate to avoid probate.  Essentially, a trust allows a successor-trustee to distribute the trust assets and otherwise administer the trust without the involvement of the probate courts.  Probate can be an expensive and time-consuming legal process and trusts lighten the courts' workload and can lower administrative expenses by avoiding probate.

Court of Appeal Affirms Buffington Law Firm Trust Litigation Victory in Published Opinion

Buffington Law Firm's trust litigation team won a significant courtroom victory in a 2017 case "Orange Catholic Foundation versus Rosario Arvizu."  In this case, Buffington Law Firm defended the trustee of a trust, Rosario Arvizu, against various breach of fiduciary duty claims by other beneficiaries of the trust, i.e. the Orange Catholic Foundation and the Diocese of Orange.  The trial court rendered a verdict in favor of Mrs. Arvizu.  The trial court found that as trustee she had been confronted with a very difficult situation, had acted in good faith, and the court had the power to exercise its discretion under Probate Code Section 16440(b) to excuse any of her errors as trustee as an exercise in equity.  After the trial the Petitioners appealed to the California Court of Appeal, arguing that the trial court had abused its discretion and lacked the power under the Probate Code to excuse what it argued were violations of the trust terms by Mrs. Arvizu.  Buffington Law Firm represented Mrs. Arvizu on appeal.

Part II -- Important 2018 Trends in California Trust Dispute Litigation

Buffington Law Firm's trust litigation team has broad experience in litigating trust disputes.  In last week's Blog article we noted that a recent Court of Appeal case, Barefoot v. Jennings, will provide controlling authority requiring significant changes to how certain types of trust disputes must be litigated.  Specifically, the holding in that case will deprive certain disinherited persons, or persons deprived of their future positions as trustee, of standing to challenge a trust amendment that affects them under Cal. Probate Code Section 17200.  In the past this statute has been the authority for perhaps most trust contest disputes in California.  This will now change for some of the most common types of trust disputes, specifically in situations where a trust amendment allegedly procured by undue influence or other improper means purports to disinherit a litigant.  Standing is a Consitutional requirement for bringing a lawsuit.  For many trust contests, the powerful Cal. Probate Code Section 17200 will no longer provide a basis for bringing suit for lack of standing by the disinherited person.

A false claim of sexual harassment can devastate your business

With the prominence of the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment and other forms of abuse have been in the spotlight lately. There can be no doubt that sexual harassment continues to be pervasive in workplaces in California and elsewhere. However, few people consider the other side of the coin – that of employers and businesses that are falsely accused of perpetuating, allowing or ignoring sexual harassment.

You may take painstaking measures to prevent sexual harassment at your workplace, which is why it is imperative to understand the potential causes and consequences of a false harassment claim against your company.

California Trust Litigation -- Important 2018 Trends

Buffington Law Firm's Trust Litigation team has noted some important trends concerning trust litigation during 2018.  In California trust litigation has become vastly more common in recent years because most families utilize trusts rather than wills to transfer their legacies.  In former decades the most common way for family legacies to transfer to the next generation was by will, and courts were well-adapted to handle this burden through the probate system.  However, in California wills have largely died out in favor of revocable or "living" trusts as the preferred vehicle for transferring a legacy.  The courts have struggled to keep up with this relatively new trend.  In some counties it has become notoriously difficult to move a trust dispute case to trial simply because of the backlog of cases in the probate division.  In some counties only a relatively few judges accept trust litigation cases.  This has sometimes led to delays and frustration for litigants and attornies alike.

2 ways to prevent co-executor feuds

One strategy some people in Orange County use in their estate plans to protect their interests and wishes is designating more than one person to serve as the executor of their estates. Some executors are appreciative of the testator's consideration to help them split up the responsibilities. Others are not. The problem is not when two executors dislike each other. It is entirely possible for two people to maintain a professional relationship for the sake of an estate. The issue is when co-executors argue and fight. 

Relationships and people's feelings towards each other change all the time. Death is one of many circumstances that can damage and destroy relationships and friendships. Fortunately, there are actions to take to preserve an estate from feuding co-executors

Judge or Jury? A Critical Question: Part 2

This week complete a two-part Blog article dealing with the considerations that counsel and client must consider when deciding whether to demand trial by jury or, by contrast, accede to a judge-only ("bench") trial.  This is often a complex decision with no sure right or wrong answer.  Last week we discussed the advantages of a jury trial.  This week we review some of the key considerations for the other side of this complicated coin: the advantages of opting for a judge-only trial.

Business and Real Estate Litigation: Do We Want a Jury? A Critical Question!

Buffington Law Firm's business and real estate trial attorneys are often faced with the question as to whether the case should ultimately be decided by a judge or by a jury. In most types of civil trials (probate proceedings being a notable exception) a party is entitled to a trial by jury under most circumstances. Whether to ultimately elect a jury trial is never a simple question. And yet the decision whether to employ a jury can be one of the most far-reaching decisions that lawyer and client can make. In this brief article we will discuss a few of the considerations that should go into making such decision.  We make no pretense that this article covers all of the factors involved.

Investment Fraud -- What to Do if You are a Victim

Buffington Law Firm's breach of contract and investment fraud attorneys have successfully handled numerous cases involving investment fraud. Last week we described the nature of a typical fraudulent investment scheme. The red flag indicator that one's investment is fraudulently invested is when the investor seeks to legitimately cash in all or part of the investment, and the investment manager delays or balks at honoring the request. After working many such schemes over the past two decades, we have learned that this is an unfailingly accurate "red flag" that fraud may be present.

5 tips for successful contract negotiation

Perhaps you are about to enter negotiations that could win you rights to an innovative product your up-and-coming company wants to sell.

However, you do not have much experience with important contract negotiations. Here are five tips to boost your confidence and help you close the deal.

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Buffington Law Firm, PC
8840 Warner Avenue Suite 300
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

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Phone: 714-450-6568
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