Suit Against Estate On Contract to Make Will Timely Pursuant to 1-Year Statute of Limitations

  In a case of first impression the court in Allen v. Stoddard was confronted with the circumstance where plaintiff’s suit — based upon an alleged contract to make a will against the executor of an estate — was filed 91 days after rejection by the estate of his creditor’s claim but within a year of the decedent’s death.

  Probate Code sections 9350 to 9354 govern claims against decedents’ estates and section 9353 unambiguously states that regardless of any other statute of limitations, any claimant against an estate has only 90 days after notice of rejection of the claim by the estate to file suit. If section 9353 governs plaintiff’s claim is time-barred.

  However, Code of Civil Procedure section 366.3 specifically gives persons who have claims against estates based on promises to make a distribution after death (such as contracts to make a will) a full year from the date of the decedent’s death to file suit. Was plaintiff’s suit, therefore, timely? The court held that it was. Continue reading

Esoteric Rulings re Mechanics Liens and Inheritance Rights

   There were two cases decided today which are relevant and important to my areas of practice. They are esoteric for a blog post which is not directed to experts. Nonetheless, one holding is important to my clients who are contractors. The other for my clients whose inheritance in uncertain due to a change in the Probate code between the making of a Will and the death of the decedent who takes under a power of appointment. Continue reading

Inheritance and Bankruptcy

   How an inheritance will affect your bankruptcy depends on: 1) timing; 2) your Chapter filing; and 3) the amount and nature of the inheritance.

   In Chapter 7 liquidation cases there is a 180 day rule. If you are to receive an inheritance from a decedent who died within 180 days prior to the date of filing, or from someone who dies within 180 days after the date of filing, you must report the circumstances to the trustee. In all likelihood your inheritance will become part of your bankruptcy estate. If the decedent died more than 180 days prior to the date of filing, or dies more than 180 days after the date of filing, the inheritance is yours. Continue reading

4th Appellate District Recognizes New Tort: Intentional Interference with an Expected Inheritance

   In Beckwith v. Dahl, filed May 3, 2012, a panel of the Fourth Appellate District overruled the lower court which had sustained a demurrer to Beckwith’s cause of action for Intentional Interference with an Expected Inheritance (“IIEI”). In recognizing the tort for the first time in California, the court held that plaintiff must allege:

  1. That plaintiff had an expectancy of inheritance;
  2. There must be proof to a reasonable degree of certainty that, but for the actions of the defendant, the plaintiff would have received an inheritance;
  3. Defendant had knowledge of the plaintiff’s inheritance and took actions to interfere with it;
  4. The interference was by independent tortious means, i.e, the underlying interference must be wrong for a reason other than for the interference itself;
  5. Plaintiff suffered damage.

   The decision creates a high bar for plaintiffs. However, it creates a remedy previously unavailable and should be welcomed. Wrongful interference with an expected inheritance no longer will have the law as a shield.

  I consult with clients and accept cases involving probate matters and contracts to make a will, including cases involving Intentional Interference with an Expected Inheritance. For other types of cases I accept, please scroll my “Home” and “My Practice” pages. If you are seeking a legal consultation or representation, please give me a call at 818.971.9409. – Michael Daymude

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