Trusts & Estates

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News & Information

 
 
Legal Updates for November 2016
 
Lynda Chung, a Legal Updates Co-Chair, provided the following updates at the Trusts & Estates presentation on November 15, 2016:
 
Humboldt County Adult Protective Services v. Superior Court (Magney), filed October 24, 2016, 2016 S.O.S. 5271
 
It was the trial court’s abuse of discretion to deny the health care agent’s statutory attorneys’ fees when the county meddled with the patient’s health care with no reasonable cause.  Two weeks after the patient was hospitalized and while he was receiving palliative care, Humboldt County Adult Protective Services ("APS") filed a petition under the Health Care Decisions Law (Prob. Code §4600), ex parte and without notice, to effectively revoke Magney‘s written advance care directive (the validity of which has never been questioned) by removing his wife as his designated agent for health care decisions and to compel medical treatment, rather than the palliative care recommended by his treating physician and desired by both the patient and his wife.  The trial court granted APS’s ex parte application and APS obtained a temporary treatment order.  Within days, APS withdrew its petition once the patient and his wife obtained counsel, and the trial court vacated the order, but denied the wife’s request for statutory attorneys’ fees.  The Court of Appeal reversed, granting statutory attorneys’ fees.  In reaching its decision, the Court noted APS, inter alia, misled the Court as to the patient’s medical status and found that APS had no reasonable cause to proceed under the Health Care Decisions Law.
 
Nellie Gail Ranch Owners Association v. McMullin, filed October 3, 2016, 2016 S.O.S 5455
 
The Court of Appeal held that equitable estoppel was not a valid affirmative defense for the homeowners who built a retaining wall by obtaining a permit from the homeowners’ association (“HOA”) that was apparently unaware that the wall was going to be built on the property owned by HOA.  This case involved husband and wife owners of property who applied to the HOA to construct a new retaining wall. The owners represented in their application that the wall was to be built on their property, but was actually constructed on common property owned by the HOA. The owners constructed the wall without the approval of the HOA and did not pay additional taxes on the property enclosed by the wall.  
 
The HOA sought title to the property and to compel the owners to remove the wall claiming that the owners could not obtain title to the common property through adverse possession since they did not pay property taxes, a requisite element for obtaining title through adverse possession.  
 
The defendant homeowners sought to obtain title of the property upon which they built the wall through adverse possession, claiming they were excused from paying taxes on the property as a requirement of proving adverse possession since the common property has worthless.
 
The Court of Appeal held that the owners may not obtain title to the property through adverse possession and ordered them to remove the wall since they were not excused from meeting the requirement of paying property taxes on the disputed property.  The Court found that the HOA was not equitably estopped from asserting its right over the property because its prior concession was made after the defendants knowingly constructed the retaining wall on HOA’s property.”