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Trusts

If the tentative ruling is accepted, no appearance by Zoom is necessary unless otherwise indicated. You must notify the probate clerk at (707) 521-6893 if you wish to be heard in response to the tentative ruling. You must inform the clerk concerning your appearance choice: Zoom or in person. Any interested party who wishes to be heard in opposition to a petition must notify all other parties of the intent to appear. Both notifications must be completed no later than 4:00 p.m. on the court day immediately preceding the day of the hearing.

Unless notification to the probate clerk has been given as provided above, the tentative rulings shall become the rulings of the court at 9:45 a.m. on the day of the hearing.  

To Join Department 23 “Zoom” Online

To Join Department 23 “Zoom” By Phone:

  • Call: +1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose) and enter 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. Matter of the Alfred T. Piazza and Lorraine Piazza 1993 Trust
    24PR00122
    Petition to Determine Validity of Purported Restatement of Trust

Tentative Ruling: This matter is CONTINUED to September 25, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in Dept. 23 for the reasons set forth below.

This matter became contested on April 30, 2024, when Diane Starkey filed her objections to the petition. As this is now a contested matter, the parties are ORDERED to meet and confer in compliance with local rule 6.2.F.2 and file statements of issues in compliance with local rule 6.2.F.3 at least seven (7) court days in advance of the continued hearing date.

Pursuant to California Probate Code §1021(a)(2) an objection or response filed pursuant to the California Probate Code must be verified. Diane Starkey has failed to properly verify the objection. The jurat does not state “under penalty of perjury.” See California Code of Civil Procedure §2015.5. Substantial compliance with the statute is insufficient.  See Kulshrestha v. First Union Commercial Corp., (2004) 33 Cal.4th 601. If Diane Starkey wishes to proceed with contesting the petition, she must serve and file an objection that is properly verified and otherwise code-compliant on or before July 15, 2024, or all objections/responses will be deemed WAIVED. California Rules of Court Rule 7.801.

 

  1. Matter of Alfred J. Kuck, Shirley E. Kuck Trust
    24PR00143
    Petition for Order Confirming Assets Into Trust

Tentative Ruling: The petition is GRANTED. The Court will sign the proposed order submitted February 15, 2024.

 

  1. Matter of Myron M. Price and Beverly H. Price Revocable Trust
    24PR00241
    Petition for Appointment of Successor Trustee by Consent of All Trust Beneficiaries

Tentative Ruling: The petition is GRANTED. The Court will sign the proposed order submitted March 13, 2024.

 

  1. Matter of the Richard Gardella and Laverne E. Gardella Revocable Living Trust of 1998
    24PR00259
    Petition of Co-Trustee Charlene Theresa Gardella Concerning Internal Affairs of Trust and For Appointment of Independent Trustee, or Instructions, and for Attorney's Fees and Costs

Tentative Ruling: The Court is not inclined to appoint Karin A. Smith as trustee without a written indication that she is willing and able to accept the appointment. If the petitioner wishes to avoid a continuance, she may file a declaration of Karin A. Smith that indicates a willingness to accept appointment as trustee prior to the hearing. Alternatively, the petitioner may file a verified supplement containing an allegation that Karin A. Smith is willing and able to accept appointment as trustee prior to the hearing. If the petitioner decides to file either document, the petitioner must request to appear at the hearing in accordance with all local rules to alert the Court.

If the petitioner does not file the aforementioned documents prior to the hearing and request to appear, this matter is CONTINUED to July 19, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23 to allow petitioner an opportunity to address the issues mentioned hereinabove. Any supplemental filings must be filed at least seven (7) court days in advance of the continued hearing date.

Regarding use of trust funds to pay for this petition, the underlying principle which guides the court in allowing costs and attorney fees incidental to litigation out of a trust estate is that such litigation is a benefit and a service to the trust. Terry v. Conlan (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1445, 1461. If the litigation is specifically for the benefit of the trustee, the trustee must bear his or her own costs incurred, and is not entitled to reimbursement from the trust.  Terry v. Conlan (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1445, 1461.

Here, one cotrustee is attempting to have a third-party neutral fiduciary appointed to act as sole successor trustee. Her purpose is to make trust administration more efficient, as hostility between the cotrustees has hindered the administration of this trust. This petition is for the benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries and the petitioner is allowed to use trust funds for costs and fees associated with this petition.

 

  1.  Matter of Spencer Family Trust
    24PR00260
    Petition of Trustee Diane Kozlowski Concerning Internal Affairs of Trust and for the Appointment of Independent Trustee or Instructions

Tentative Ruling: The petition is GRANTED. The Court accepts the resignation of Diane Kozlowski and appoints David Komar as sole successor trustee.

Regarding use of trust funds to pay for this petition, the underlying principle which guides the court in allowing costs and attorney fees incidental to litigation out of a trust estate is that such litigation is a benefit and a service to the trust. Terry v. Conlan (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1445, 1461. If the litigation is specifically for the benefit of the trustee, the trustee must bear his or her own costs incurred, and is not entitled to reimbursement from the trust.  Terry v. Conlan (2005) 131 Cal.App.4th 1445, 1461.

Here, the trustee is attempting to have a third-party neutral fiduciary appointed to act as sole successor trustee. Her purpose is to ensure orderly administration of the trust. She has experienced hostility from the beneficiaries that has hindered trust administration. The administration of this trust is likely to be complex and may require the trustee to take certain legal action. The trustee feels that appointment of a professional fiduciary will best serve the interests of orderly administration of the trust. Therefore, the court finds that this petition is for the benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries, not for petitioner’s benefit, and petitioner should be allowed to use trust funds for this petition.

The Court will sign the proposed order lodged March 18, 2024. 

 

  1. Matter of Richard H. Adler, Mary Ardine Adler Trust
    24PR00265
    Petition for Modification of Trust

Tentative Ruling: The petition is GRANTED. The Court will sign the proposed order submitted March 20, 2024.

 

  1. Matter of Eva V. Washington Trust
    SPR096062
    Petition for Approval of Second Account and Report of Aprille Rafidison, Successor Trustee

Tentative Ruling: This matter is CONTINUED to October 4, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23 to allow the petitioner an opportunity to address the issues noted below.

Terri Ross is a beneficiary of the trust and is listed at paragraph 39 of the petition as a person entitled to notice of this proceeding. The Court finds no proof of service as to Terri Ross. The petitioner is ordered to timely serve code-compliant notice of this proceeding and of the continued hearing date upon Terri Ross.

The petition fails to comply with Prob C §1064(a)(5) as it lacks an allegation that all cash has been maintained in interest bearing accounts. Also, no market values of the assets on hand at the start and the end of the account period are presented as required by Prob C §1063(a). Petitioner is ordered to serve and file a verified supplement to the petition that includes this information at least seven (7) court days in advance of the continued hearing date.

***End of Tentative Ruling***

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