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January 2020 Archives

Barefoot v. Jennings overturned in key Trust Litigation Decision

Buffington Law Firm's Trust Litigation attorneys have been keenly following the key trust litigation case of Barefoot v. Jennings.  This case, when originally decided by the Court of Appeal, had a far-reaching and downright disruptive effect upon trust litigation in California.  The reason is simple.  The decision in Barefoot held that if a plaintiff was challenging a trust, where there was an amendment that disinherited the plaintiff, that this meant that the plaintiff lacked standing to challenge the very amendment that disinherited him or her.  This gave rise to an obvious circular dillemma -- if a defendant procured, by improper means such as  undue influence or the like, an amendment that disinherited another beneficiary, not only was that beneficiary disinherited, but the amendment caused the beneficiary to lose standing to challenge the amendment in probate court under Probate Code Section 17200!  This was a surprising decision, to say the least, since many trust litigation cases involve this precise scenario.

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