Barefoot v. JenningsAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court held that the Probate Code grants standing in probate court to individuals who claim that trust amendments eliminating their beneficiary status arose from incompetence, undue influence, or fraud, thus reversing the decision of the court of appeal concluding that only a currently named beneficiary can petition the court concerning the internal affairs of a trust or to determine the existence of the trust under Cal. Prob. Code 17200, subdivision (a).
Plaintiff, one of the daughters of Joan Lee Maynord, was a beneficiary under the Maynord Family Trust. Maynord subsequently executed a series of amendments to the trust. In these amendments Plaintiff's share of the trust was eliminated and Plaintiff was expressly disinherited. Plaintiff then filed a petition alleging the amendments disinheriting her were invalid on three grounds. The trial court dismissed the petition, concluding that Plaintiff lacked standing because she was neither a beneficiary nor a trustee under the trust. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that claims that trust provisions or amendments are the product of incompetence, undue influence, or fraud should be decided by the probate court if the invalidity of those provisions or amendments would render the challenger a beneficiary of the trust.