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Conservatorships

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

Any party who wishes to be heard in response or opposition to the Court’s tentative ruling MUST NOTIFY the Court’s Judicial Assistant by telephone at (707) 521-6893 and MUST NOTIFY all other parties of the intent to appear, and whether they will appear in person or by Zoom.  Both notifications must be completed no later than 4:00 p.m. on the court (business) day immediately before 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 the day of the hearing at the beginning of the calendar, absent an objection from an interested party per Probate Code section 1043.    

To Access the Probate Examiner Notes:

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To Join Department 23 “Zoom” Online

To Join Department 23 “Zoom” By Phone:

  • Call: +1 669-254-5252 US (San Jose) and enter the same meeting ID and password as listed above.

Guide for Participating in Court Proceedings via Zoom for Dept 23:

  • 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.
  • Be patient. Check in will take more time and the experience from those who have tried this before is that proceedings are a little slower generally.

Tentative Rulings

June 14,  2024 at 9:30 a.m.

  1. Conservatorship of Eric Daniel Stein
    24PR00347
    Appointment of Conservator

Tentative Ruling: The Court finds the Capacity Declaration filed on June 5, 2024, insufficient to support the petition for conservatorship.  In addition to the staleness of the date the physician last saw the proposed conservatee (July 12, 2023), no deficits are noted.  So while the conclusion of a lack of capacity is indicated, there is no support for the conclusion.  Otherwise, upon the filing of a capacity declaration that addresses the above issues, the Court is inclined to grant the conservatorship and waive bond.

Matter is CONTINUED to July 26, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23, to allow petitioner time to file a new Capacity Declaration.

The temporary conservatorship shall continue as previously ordered with a new expiration date of August 2, 2024, or the issuance of general letters or further order of the Court.  Petitioner should submit new letters of temporary conservatorship if necessary.

 

  1. & 3.  Conservatorship of Peter Jon Shemonsky
               SPR096702
               Account & Report;
               Appointment of Successor Conservator

Tentative Ruling: The Court accepts the resignation of co-conservators Carolyn Allgeier and Clement Mok and thanks them for their service to the conservatee.

The petition to appoint Andrea Wolcott, successor conservator of the person and estate is APPROVED. 

Bond is set at $1,215,000.00.

The requests for reimbursement by co-conservators Allgeier and Mok are approved in the amounts requested.

As to the requests for attorney fees the Court finds certain reductions appropriate.  Compensation for services rendered by an attorney to a conservator in a conservatorship proceeding is payable in an amount the Court determines is “reasonable.”  In determining the amount of compensation to award, courts will consider the value of the estate, the nature and difficulty of the tasks performed, the time spent, the results achieved, and whether those results benefited the conservatee.  CRC Rule 7.702 made applicable via Rule 7.751. 

Primarily in this case, the Court finds adjustment of the hourly rates are necessary to bring them in line with an amount consistent with those of the community practicing in this area of law during the time frames involved.  The Court has done a line-by-line examination of billing records and has made reductions accordingly based on the rates of individual counsel, tasks performed, efficiency of work, benefit to the client, and success in the litigation.  The reductions also address billing for multiple counsel on the same case meeting and conferring with each other. 

As to the fees of Dickenson, Peatman & Fogarty (DP&F) Law, the Court has set the billable rate for Mr. Passarelli at $450 per hour, and the billable rate of Mr. Leininger at $350 per hour.  The Court has set the paralegal billable rate at $180 per hour.  No other rates were changed; however, the Court did not award compensation for billers with the initials: JGJ, MGC, OBS and MGM.  After consideration of all the above factors and this Court’s familiarity with the matter, having served as the trial and settlement conference judge, the Court grants DP&F Law attorney fees in the amount of $180,460.  The Court notes that costs are not separately listed from the attorney fees in the moving papers, however it is satisfied based on its own independent review of the billing records that DP&F Law incurred costs of $6,944.77, which are approved.  The total attorney fees and costs approved is a total of $187,404.77.  To the extent attorney fees and costs were actually paid to counsel that exceed the amounts awarded by the Court here, counsel are ordered to refund to the conservatorship estate the difference within 30 days.

As to the fees of Ms. Dennis, the Court does not make any reductions to the time for tasks billed or type of task performed but does reduce the hourly rate to $450 per hour.  The total fees approved are $34,514, plus costs of $3,263.97, for a total of $37,777.97.  As the Court understands from the petition that counsel has already received $34,204.31 for her services, the Court orders payment to her of an additional $3,573.66.

 As to the fees of Ms. Gardner, attorney fees and cost are approved in the amount prayed.

The first account and report is APPROVED.

Conservator’s counsel is directed to submit a revised proposed order that conforms to this ruling.

 

  1. Conservatorship of Cynthia White
    SPR097284
    Account & Report

Tentative Ruling: Matter is CONTINUED to July 26, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23, to allow Petitioner time to cure the deficiencies identified in the Court Investigator Report filed June 5, 2024.

 

  1. Conservatorship of Shirley Gee
    SPR098013
    Sale of Property

Tentative Ruling: Matter is CONTINUED to July 19, 2024, to allow Petitioner time to cure the deficiencies listed in the Court Investigator Report filed on June 5, 2024. 

Alternately, if the Petitioner can obtain waivers of service of notice of the Notice of Filing of Inventory and Appraisal and How to Object to the Inventory and Appraisal, Partial No. 1 and Final, Petitioner may request to appear for the purpose of presenting the waivers at the hearing, and the sale can proceed.  The required waivers are from all those entitled to notice, including relatives within the first degree (i.e. conservatee’s daughter), the conservatee and her counsel.

 

***End Tentative Rulings***

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