Gregge v. Hugill

Trial court erred in dismissing beneficiary’s challenge to trust amendment, allegedly signed under undue influence, based on another beneficiary’s disclaimer which left plaintiff’s share of the trust unaffected by the challenged amendment.  As a grandchild entitled to a share of the grandchildren’s sub-trust, plaintiff had standing to petition under Probate Code 17200(a) to set aside a 2008 amendment to the trust on the ground that the trustor lacked mental capacity at the time he executed the amendment and was subject to the undue influence of a child who benefited from the amendment.  The trial court erred in dismissing the petition when one grandchild who the 2008 amendment added as a beneficiary of the grandchildren’s sub-trust disclaimed his interest in that trust.  Though the disclaimer left plaintiff with as great a share of the grandchildren’s sub-trust as he had held before the 2008 amendment, it did not deprive him of standing to challenge that amendment.  Nor was the disclaimer a settlement of plaintiff’s claim since it was not anything to which plaintiff had agreed.  The policy disfavoring will and trust challenges and favoring their settlement still does not justify the dismissal of the action upon the disclaimer, particularly as those policies are offset by the policies of implementing the testator’s or trustor’s intent and of preventing elder abuse.

California Court of Appeal, Sixth District (Grover, J.); July 13, 2016; 2016 WL 3880769



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