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Background

My friend (plaintiff) has an open case against her mother's unscrupulous caretaker (defendant). Plaintiff is claiming that the defendant used 'undue influence' against plaintiff's mother, manipulating her to change her will/trust so as to (1) disinherit the plaintiff completely and (2) add the defendant as a beneficiary.

Plaintiff's mother is now deceased.

Status

The judge seemed somewhat sympathetic to the plaintiff's case. It's by no means a slam-dunk, however. A settlement was the most likely outcome.

But in yesterday's routine hearing, the judge effectively put the case on hold, pending outcome of another case (Barefoot v. Jennings) which is currently in the hands the California Supreme Court. The judge indicated that:

(1) If Barefoot is upheld by the California Supreme Court, a beneficiary who was disinherited completely would have no standing to contest the will/trust on the basis of fraud or undue influence. The case would be dismissed.

(2) If Barefoot is overturned by the California Supreme Court, the case can proceed.

Questions

Since neither attorney is familiar with the Barefoot case, and since the judge recommended that both sides, "do their own research," I'm looking for some answers on my own. In particular:

If Barefoot is upheld, does my friend have any recourse? I've researched it online but am encountering some conflicting conclusions.

One line of thought is that the victim who is disinherited has no standing to seek justice through the court system, so long as said victim was disinherited completely.

The other line of thought, which is proposed here, is that the victim can still sue, but the suit must be brought in civil court rather than probate court.

Any thoughts on which view is correct? Is there another legal alternative that is available to us if Barefoot is upheld?

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If Barefoot is upheld, your friend's recourse will be a civil action for intentional interference with expected inheritance.

  • Could the person who down-voted this answer provide some details on why the answer is incorrect? Would a civil action not be appropriate? – Shaniqua Black Jan 1 at 17:16
  • Some reference or citation would improve this answer – Tim Lymington supports Monica Jun 4 at 8:35

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