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.


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.


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?

  • Background here: trustontrial.com/2018/12/… – ohwilleke Jun 2 '19 at 23:55
  • What is the status the Barefoot law as a right now? – Anna Jan 8 at 18:44
  • More background. Still not decided as of January 8, 2020. losangelesprobatelitigationattorneyblog.com/… – ohwilleke Jan 8 at 18:57
  • @Anna: It is a court of appeals decision, and in theory binding authority, but since the California Supreme Court has taken it up, it is not final and has a big question mark attached. Most practitioners think that it will be reversed. – ohwilleke Jan 8 at 19:00
  • 1
    @ohwilleke: Note that according to your first link, it takes the CA Supreme Court an average of two years between granting review and issuing a decision. If that's the case, we'd expect a decision around the end of 2020. – Michael Seifert Jan 8 at 19:48

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

|improve this answer|||||
  • 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 '19 at 17:16
  • Some reference or citation would improve this answer – Tim Lymington Jun 4 '19 at 8:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.