Oct 16, 2021
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TENTATIVE RULINGS
 
Probate Trust Calendar - TRUSTS

Friday, October 15, 2021    9:30 a.m. – Hon. Rene Chouteau

Probate Matters Will be Heard as Follows: 

 CourtCall is not permitted for this calendar.

If the tentative ruling does not require appearances, and is accepted, no appearance by Zoom is necessary. 

The tentative rulings will become the ruling of the Court unless a party desires to be heard.  If you desire to appear and present oral argument, YOU MUST NOTIFY Judge Dollard’s Judicial Assistant by telephone at (707) 521-6893 and all other opposing parties of your intent to appear no later 4:00 p.m. the court day immediately preceding the day of the hearing.  

Unless notification of an appearance has been given as provided above, the tentative ruling shall become the ruling of the court at 9:45 a.m. on the day of the hearing, absent an objection from an interested party per Probate Code section 1043.    

 

To Access the Probate Examiner Notes:

 

·         Navigate to the Home page of the Sonoma Superior Court website: www.sonoma.courts.ca.gov.

·         Choose Court Case Portal

·         Choose “Click here to access the Portal”

·         Accept the Terms

·         Choose Smart Search, insert your case number, and follow all instructions.

 

To Join “Zoom” Online

D18 – Probate 9:30am Friday

MeetingID: 838—5609—8726

Password: 000169

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83856098726?pwd=WEI3K1BPRCswSk0ZYSs4VUw1OU5ydz09

 

To Join “Zoom” By Phone:

By Phone (same meeting ID and password as listed for each calendar):
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

 

Guide for Participating in Court Proceedings via Zoom for Dept 18:

 

-After joining the meeting and checking in with the clerk, please mute your audio when not speaking. This helps keep background noise to a minimum.

-Be mindful of background noise when your microphone is not muted.  Avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers.

-Position your camera properly if you choose to use a web camera. Be sure it is in a stable position and focused at eye level, if possible.  Make sure everything visible in the frame is appropriate for an appearance in court.

-If a confidential session becomes necessary it is incumbent on you to ensure you are able to participate from a private location so that unauthorized people cannot overhear or see the proceedings.

-Chat is enabled for the sharing of documents among participants and the court and to allow attorneys to communicate individually with each other or their clients only. No chat messages should be sent privately to the court as it would amount to an unauthorized ex parte communication. Neither should chat messages be sent to all participants unless directed by the court.

-The recording function has been disabled. Remember, the prohibition against recording court proceedings, even remote ones, remains.

 

   

  
 
TRUSTS
 
 
1.         SPR-092612, Matter of Robert Michael Zajonc Trust
Except as provided otherwise below, THIS MATTER IS CONTINUED to January 21, 2022, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23, to allow time for the parties to resolve the pending discovery issues and/or for the Court to resolve the issues for them at the hearing scheduled for January 5, 2022. 
 
Pursuant to Local Rule 6.2 (G)(2), the parties are directed to further meet and confer and make a reasonable and good faith attempt to informally resolve the controversy at a face-to-face conference (which is deemed to include video platforms such as Zoom), if possible, otherwise by telephone conference. The parties are encouraged to use the court’s settlement panelist program, and may do so by calling the court’s judicial assistant at 521-6730. If the matter has not resolved, the parties shall each file statements of issues no later than seven (7) court days before the continued hearing date. (Local Rule 6.2 (G)(3).)
 
 
The Objector’s objection based on alleged breaches of duty by the Trustee is OVERRULED. The Court finds that the settlement in the companion case (SPR092567) resolved all claims for breaches of duty by the Trustee (Petitioner) which existed at the time of the settlement agreement, e.g., breach of duty to remain impartial or to not “take sides.” The settlement agreement itself says: “Upon full and final resolution, all claims of all parties shall be dismissed and all parties will waive and release such claims as they may have against one another. All parties waive Civil Code § 1542.” 
 
This finding is supported by the court order approving the settlement which says: “All parties have waived and released any and all claims they may have against one another and have generally released each other party and waived the provisions of California Civil Code § 1542. [And] [e]ach party and beneficiary shall bear their own costs and attorney fees except for the Trustee whose reasonable attorney fees and costs shall be paid from the trust.”
 
The objection based on whether it is proper for Trustee to label her account as a “First Account” is also OVERULED.   The Court finds that Petitioner’s account is the first account submitted to the Court for approval and is, therefore, properly titled the “First Account.”
                                                                 
 
2.       SPR-094246, Matter of Antoinette Papapietro Trust
 
APPEARANCES REQUIRED. Counsel should be prepared to argue on the issue of whether the Court should direct Petitioners to provide Itemized billing and all backup documentation for accountants and attorneys performing work on behalf of the Trust.
 
The Court notes that an updated Statement of Issues was filed by Respondents, albeit an untimely one. As of 3:30 p.m. on October 13, 2021, no Statement of Issues from Petitioners has been filed. The Court previously admonished the parties about late-filed and/or unfiled Statements of Issues. On July 9, 2021, the Court’s ruling included the following language: “Counsel are . . . advised that next time they fail to file the required statement of issues they may be ordered to show cause why sanctions should not be issued.” Therefore, on this occasion, counsel should be prepared to advise the Court why they should not be ordered to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for their failures to comply with Local rule 6.2.G.3. 
          
 
 
3.         SPR-095035, Matter of Scott L Wachenheim Trust
 
The appointment of David Hollander as guardian ad litem of Elizabeth Wachenheim is APPROVED. The Court will sign an order in the form of the Proposed Order Appointing GAL submitted by Petitioners on October 1, 2021.
 
The hearing on the Petition filed on October 14, 2020, is continued to December 17, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 18, for purposes of hearing from the newly-appointed GAL regarding the First Account and petition for approval thereof. 
 
Additionally, the Petitioners are directed to file a supplemental Petition with a complete copy of the Settlor’s trust instrument attached thereto as required by Rule 6.8.A. of the Local Rules. If notice is required, Petitioners shall give notice thereof. In the alternative, Petitioners are invited to advise the Court if and how they have already complied with the local rule in this regard.
 
 
4.         SPR-095036, Matter of Wachenheim Family Trust
 
The appointment of David Hollander as guardian ad litem of Elizabeth Wachenheim is APPROVED. The Court will sign an order in the form of the Proposed Order Appointing GAL submitted by Petitioners on October 1, 2021.
 
The hearing on the Petition filed on October 14, 2020, is continued to December 17, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 18, for purposes of hearing from the newly-appointed GAL regarding the First Account and petition for approval thereof. 
 
Additionally, the Petitioners are directed to file a supplemental Petition with a complete copy of the Settlor’s trust instrument attached thereto as required by Rule 6.8.A. of the Local Rules. If notice is required, Petitioners shall give notice thereof. In the alternative, Petitioners are invited to advise the Court if and how they have already complied with the local rule in this regard.
 
 
 
5.         SPR-095339, Matter of Edward F DelBonta, Helene M. Del Bonta Trust
 
This matter is CONTINUED to December 17, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 18. 
 
 
 
 
6.         SPR-095880, Matter of Richard Leiberman Trust
 
The hearing on this matter is CONTINUED to 9:30 a.m. on December 10, 2021 in Department 18 to permit Petitioner the opportunity to comply with the service requirement of Prob. Code § 851(a).
 
The proof of service filed on August 3, 2021, shows that the heirs and beneficiaries of the decedent were properly served with the Notice of Hearing and Petition. However, Merrill Lynch is in “possession of” the investment account ending in “1004” which is the subject of this petition. Therefore, pursuant to Prob. Code § 851(a), Petitioner must serve the financial institution in the manner provided in Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 413.10) of Title 5 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure, namely the method by which a summons is served.
 
Since notice was otherwise proper, if Petitioner can obtain a waiver of notice from Merrill Lynch in advance of the original hearing date, Petitioner can avoid the continuance and obtain an order granting the Petition at the original hearing date (assuming no objection is made at the hearing) by calling (707) 521-6893 (no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day before the scheduled hearing) to indicate an appearance will be made in response to this tentative ruling and by filing the waiver of notice in advance of the hearing.
 
 
 
 
7.         SPR-095894, Matter of Theresa M. Spahn Trust
 
The unopposed Petition filed on August 6, 2021, is APPROVED. The Court will sign the Proposed Order submitted on August 6, 2021.
 
 
 
8.         SPR-095902, Matter of Marshall E Fenstermaker Trust
 
This matter is continued to December 17, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. in Department 18 (to be heard concurrently with the recently-filed Petition to Invalidate Trust and for Imposition of Damages for Elder Abuse). Objections have been filed by Marshall E. Fenstermaker, Jr. Therefore, pursuant to Local Rule 6.2 (G)(2), the parties are directed to meet and confer and make a reasonable and good faith attempt to informally resolve the controversy at a face-to-face conference (which is deemed to include video platforms such as Zoom), if possible, otherwise by telephone conference. The parties are encouraged to use the court’s settlement panelist program, if they believe it would be helpful, and may do so by calling the court’s judicial assistant at 707-521-6893. If the matter is not resolved in advance of the next hearing, the parties shall each file statements of issues no later than seven (7) court days before the continued hearing date. (Local Rule 6.2 (G)(3).)
 
9.         SPR-095944, Matter of Florian Thompson Trust
 
The Verified Petition filed on August 25, 2021, is APPROVED. The Court will sign the Proposed Order submitted with the Petition.
 
 
 
10.       SPR-095952, Matter of Alden E James, Margaret B James Trust
 
This matter is CONTINUED to December 17, 2021, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 18, to provide Petitioner time to comply with the service requirement of Prob. Code § 851(c)(1) and (3). Specifically, Petitioner used Judicial Council form DE-120, which is not the correct form for notice. Form DE-115 is a mandatory form for use in Heggstad petitions. 
 
If Petitioner can obtain waivers of notice from all parties entitled to notice in advance of the original hearing date, Petitioner can avoid the continuance and obtain an order granting the Petition at the original hearing date (assuming no objection is made at the hearing) by calling (707) 521-6893 to indicate that an appearance will be made in response to this tentative ruling and by filing waivers of notice in advance of the hearing.
 
 
*This is the end of these Tentative Rulings*
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