Doolittle v. Exchange BankAnnotate this Case
Susan filed two actions challenging the disposition of the trust estate under an amendment to her mother’s trust that gave substantial gifts to her mother’s gardener, her friends, and caregivers. The probate court authorized the trustee to use trust assets to defend against those actions. The trust contained a no-contest clause and a provision giving the trustee the power to “litigate” and “employ” and “reasonably compensate . . . attorneys” regardless of the outcome of a challenge. Susan argued that the provision was, in effect, a no-contest clause that may not be enforced under current provisions of the Probate Code, absent a determination that her challenges lack merit and were brought without probable cause and, in all events, may not be enforced until the validity of the amendment containing the authorization has been adjudicated. The court of appeal affirmed; the defense directive is not an element of the no-contest clause.