Probate Litigation 101: Nuts and Bolts (CA)

Audio program! (check our CLE Programs page for live versions)

Our Probate Litigation 101 program takes an in-depth look at the pre-procedural rules, statutes, and major issues and areas of law that an estate planner needs to handle when dealing with probate litigation. Since so much of probate litigation is the time leading up to actual trial, a large portion of the program will be focused on all of the actions, procedures and tasks you must know about, and accomplish, long before you get to trial. Then, towards the end of the day, you’ll get concrete advice regarding trial procedure and what to expect.

Our speakers will cover a multitude of procedural issues, statutes and case law that govern Probate Litigation, and will provide practical advice geared to helping you succeed before and at trial.

Our panel includes probate Judge Mary Thornton House and many top-notch practitioners, including many CA Bar Certified Legal Specialists in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law.

The program is geared towards the attorney who already has a good understanding of estate planning law and terms. Litigators wanting to know more about this form of litigation may want to order some of our estate planning audio packages to familiarize themselves with the concepts, legal areas, terms and other particularities of estate planning – of which there are a lot – prior to taking this course.  You can search on “Estate Planning” under our audio tab to find many options, or call us for some suggestions (877) 858-3848.

The program recording date is November 10, 2017.


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What You Will Learn

Procedure & Timelines

  • Statutory deadlines
  • Local Rules
  • Petitions
  • Motions
  • Ex-Parte Motions
  • Citation and Summonses
  • Do’s and Don’ts

Statute of Limitations


  • Civil discovery procedures apply
  • Probate specific discovery procedures
  • Fortham v. Boyer
  • Mota v. Superior Court
  • Subpoenaing Records


Capacity & Undue Influence

  • Presumption of Capacity
  • Probate Code §§ 810-12
  • Estate of Fritschi
  • Capacity to execute trust
  • Capacity to execute will
  • Conservatorships (functional capacity)
  • WIC § 15610.70
  • Burden of proof
  • Estate of Truckenmeiller
  • Elements to establish undue influence
  • Presumption of Undue Influence – Burden shifting
  • Rebutting Presumption of Undue Influence

Types of Actions & Issues:

  • Trust contests
  • Will contests / revocation or probate
  • Contract to make a will

Types of Actions & Issues:
Removal of Fiduciaries and Accounting Litigation

  • Appointment of temporary trustee
  • Probate Code § 17206
  • Probate Code § 15642(e)
  • Strategy re proposing neutral PPF
  • Real property – recording interim order
  • Accounting Litigation

Types of Actions & Issues:

  • Contested Conservatorships
  • Substituted judgment petitions – Probate Code 2580
  • Representing clients with limited capacity

Types of Actions & Issues:
850 Petitions

  • Statute of limitations
  • Real property – lis pendens.
  • 859 Damages

Types of Actions & Issues:
Financial Elder Abuse

  • WIC § 15610.3
  • WIC § 15657.5.
  • Perlin v. Fountain View Mgmt., Inc.
  • Remedies
  • Probate Code § 859 – double damages

Types of Actions & Issues:
Prohibited Donees – Probate Code § 21380

Types of Actions & Issues:
Pre-litigation mediation and settlement

  • Petitions to Approve Settlement
  • Demand letter, draft of unfiled petition, offer to mediate

Trials and Evidence

  • Final status conference
  • Trial prep
  • Pre-trial deadlines
  • Trial briefs
  • Evidentiary issues
  • Motions in limine
  • Excluding witnesses
  • Order of trial
  • Attorney-Client Privilege
  • Fiduciaries and Successor Fiduciaries
  • Holder of privilege after death
  • Exceptions



“The book really was like a goldmine of information…This was a fantastic program, very complete and very substantive. Great panel with great information. I learned a lot which I know will help my practice.” – Steven A. Friedman, Esq.

“Enjoyed the program. Learned a great deal of material…comments from the bench are always helpful.” – Tom Borchard, Esq.

“My goal was a brief overview of Probate Litigation, with some helpful practice takeaways – both were accomplished!” – Abigail McLaughlin, Esq.

“There were certain areas I had not considered before, but which will be helpful for [practicing in] both L.A. County and Orange County.” – Austin Borchard, Esq.

“[Speakers] All were super knowledgeable and practical…Learned a few very important nuggets to keep me malpractice free.” – Elizabeth Vozzella, Esq.

“Well-organized…very informative. Good Q&A.” – David Kim, Esq.

“I really enjoyed the content. It appeals to new probate attorneys, attorneys new to litigation, and is a refresher for those who are more experienced.” – Savannah Estenson, Esq.

“Great presentation! Very relevant…great panel. Thank you!” – Marta N. Jonsson, Esq.

“Loved [Lauriann Wright’s] real-life case experience and practice tips. She was so helpful.” – Jill Piano, Esq.

“All speakers were clear, informative, organized, and engaging. Fantastic panel. Thank you! Content was…incredibly relevant and informative. [The] speakers paced through the amount of information well without sacrificing quality. I am a new practitioner and I appreciate the overview of each topic. Each speaker clarified many practical issues (not just probate concepts): e.g., filing petitions, considering how to handle difficult clients and/or court appearances. Well-organized event. Thank you! I look forward to taking part in more CLE events with Pincus.”

“I just started in probate law and this was a wonderfully informative program, and provides a great overview.”

“The program overall was exceptional. The thoroughness of what was covered in the time constraint of one day was well done.”

“Excellent presentations. [Speakers] were great…[Judge Thornton was] an excellent, engaging speaker and I felt lucky to have such an experienced judge teaching us…Excellent materials.”

“Great program. Appreciated the focus on practical ‘how-to’.”

“Great opportunity for insight from a sitting judge. Thanks for the tips! …Very intensive course with great depth. Covered a lot of smaller issues, and the insight into these, and lesser-known tricks and tips, was great.”

“Really appreciated the [judge’s] intro and big picture overview at the beginning. Appreciated [Edgar Saenz’s] cheat sheets.”

“Having Judge House was great!”

“[Lauriann Wright was] very knowledgeable as to litigation and providing case examples to cover points… [Marshal Oldman] Thanks for sharing witness tips!”

“The handout materials are great.”

“Really good [handouts].”

“I found it very helpful to have the judge’s perspective… [The] materials are very useful.”

“Excellent overview.”


Beti Tsai Bergman, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
Peninsula Law

Beti Tsai Bergman is an attorney and counselor at law dedicated to serving her clients with judgment, courtesy, and diligence. She is an attorney, in good standing, licensed to practice law in the State of California. She was admitted to the CA State Bar in 1997.

Ms. Bergman is the principal shareholder of the law firm, Peninsula Law, A Professional Law Corporation, which specializes in probate, trusts, estates, conservatorships, and elder abuse. Ms. Bergman has extensive experience in representing conservators, trustees, and executors, as well as, heirs and beneficiaries in uncontested and contested trust and estate matters. Before specializing in probate, Ms. Bergman was a city attorney for Los Angeles and was a business litigator in private practice.

Ms. Bergman is certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization in estate planning, trust and probate law and has earned an Advocate Designation from the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.

Her speaking engagements include CEB live webcast on estate planning, panels discussing women in the law, mothers balancing career and family, starting your law practice, and preparing for advanced age healthcare and financial care.

Christopher Carico, Esq.
Partner/Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
Carico Macdonald Kil & Benz LLP

Christopher D. Carico is a board certified specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law with over 30 years of legal experience. His practice includes all facets of trusts and estates, and he represents families, individuals, professional trustees, conservators, guardians, and beneficiaries.

Mr. Carico is one of a handful of California attorneys with expertise in both the estate tax planning and litigation components of trust and estate law. Because of this dual expertise, Mr. Carico is able to design estate planning instruments that can stand up to the closest scrutiny and challenge others’ instruments from the ground level up.

Mr. Carico divides his time between: (1) representing beneficiaries and fiduciaries in dispute resolution, will contests, trusts contests, contested conservatorship, Marvin claims, financial elder abuse actions, challenged accountings, fiduciary surcharge and removal actions, property characterization disputes, and 850 petitions; and (2) counseling clients on advanced estate planning techniques including family limited partnership, family limited liability companies, designated beneficiary trusts, grantor retained annuity and unitrusts, qualified personal residence trusts, intentionally defective grantor trusts, charitable remainder trusts, charitable foundations, self-cancelling installment notes, and life insurance trusts.

Mr. Carico has frequently served as a court-appointed expert to provide his opinions and recommendations to the probate court in the following types of actions: trust reformation proceedings, fiduciary accountings, actions for breach of fiduciary duty, actions for fiduciary suspension and removal, fee petitions, and compromise of creditors’ claims.

Committed to helping individuals resolve trust and estate disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible, Mr. Carico consistently volunteers time as a mediator on the various Court-sponsored pro bono probate mediation panels, and is currently acting as a volunteer Probate Settlement Officer on Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Probate Settlement Conference Panel. Mr. Carico also serves on the Executive Committee for the Trust and Estate Section of the State Bar of California.

Mr. Carico graduated with a J.D. cum laude, from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif. He obtained his B.A in economics from Occidental College.

Robert Eroen, Esq.
Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
Hill, Farrer & Burrill LLP

Mr. Eroen is licensed by the state of California as a Certified Public Accounting (CPA), is certified by the Financial Planning Board of Standards, Inc. as a Certified Financial Planning™ certificant (CFP®) and Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law (CEPTPLS).

Robert Eroen is a seasoned trust, estate and probate attorney who represents professional fiduciaries, trustees, executors, administrators, conservatees, conservators, guardians, beneficiaries and omitted heirs in all probate court related matters. He has handled a wide range of cases from challenging the validity of multi-million dollar trusts to releasing seniors from inappropriate conservatorships, removing renegade trustees and handling international guardianship matters. He is an extremely talented and aggressive litigator.

This diverse background enables Mr. Eroen – and his firm – to provide clients with an unparalleled depth of knowledge, attentive service and the resiliency and cost effectiveness of a smaller firm.  The firm’s specialties include difficult contested estate and trust matters; complex issues of taxation; “accountings gone wrong” and the like.

Daniel B. Herbert, Esq.
Partner/Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP

Daniel B. Herbert is a partner in the law firm of Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP, where he has been head of the firm’s trust and estate litigation group since 2005. Previously he was a partner with McKay, Meyer and Herbert, APC, where he was in charge of that firm’s trust and estate litigation for eight years. He has successfully litigated many contested trust and estate matters, including at trial and on appeal, including winning a .4 million judgment at trial and a .1 million appeal in the same day. He is certified by the California Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in estate planning, trust, and probate law.

Mr. Herbert has made several presentations to attorneys including to the American Bar Association at the 2009 Annual Symposia of its Real Property, Trust & Estate Section in Washington DC (regarding trust and probate litigation); the State Bar of California at its 2014 Summit in Newport Beach (Litigated to Death: How to Sue, Defend, and Settle with the Dead); the Los Angeles County Bar at its Trusts & Estates Symposium in 2015 (ethics for the probate bar); and post-death litigation presentations to civil litigation and trial attorneys in Los Angeles (broadcast live to five other cities) in 2012, 2016.

His presentations for Pincus Professional Education include specialist-certification courses in 2013, 2015; Trust & Estate Boot Camp in 2014; Probate practical course in 2016; Advanced Estate Planning seminar for complicated estates in 2016; and Probate Litigation 101 in 2017 & 2019.

He authored Trustees Face Big Liability published in the Insurance Journal on December 20, 2010, and Last Beneficiary Standing: Identifying Proper Parties in Fiduciary Litigation published in the ABA e/Report in June 2009.

Mr. Herbert is admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts of California (1990), Illinois (1994), and New York (2002), and before the Seventh and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal. He graduated cum laude from Whittier Law School in 1990 with many honors and distinctions (Law Review, Dean’s List, Honor Roll, Dean’s Merit Scholarship, and several American Jurisprudence Awards). He is a member of the trust and estate sections of the American Bar Association, California Lawyer’s Association, Illinois State Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, and Pasadena Bar Association.

Marshal Oldman, Esq.
Oldman, Cooley, Sallus, Birnberg & Coleman, LLP

Practice areas: probate and trust administration, litigation, conservatorships and estate planning.

Mr. Oldman received his Bachelor of Arts from USC and his Juris Doctor from UCLA. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

He is admitted to practice in the State of California, the United States District Court (Central District of California) and the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Oldman has been a member and officer of the following state and local bar groups: he was the Chairman of the San Fernando Valley Bar Probate Section, member of the Executive Committee of Los Angeles County Bar Association Probate Section and its Chairman, a member and Chairman of the Legislative Monitoring Committee of County Bar Probate Section, the President of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, a member of the Board of Trustees of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Section of the State Bar of California as well as Chairman of its Incapacity and Litigation Committees and its Vice Chairman.

He has authored numerous articles for the San Fernando Valley Bar Bulletin, Probate Column for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Journal of Western Legal History and for the Daily Journal Report. He has spoken frequently before the Los Angeles County Bar Probate Section, San Fernando Valley Bar, Santa Monica Bar, Pasadena Bar, California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) and other organizations.

Mr. Oldman has testified before the California Assembly Judiciary Committee on probate legislation on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Probate Section. He has also served as an expert witness in probate, attorney fee, legal malpractice and federal estate tax matters.

He has been a public member of the California Board of Accountancy since 2007, having served as Secretary Treasurer and Vice President and is currently its President. He has served on the San Fernando Valley Community Legal Foundation and the San Fernando Valley Legal Services and is a member of the Ninth Circuit Historical Society, the Cowboy Lawyers Association and the National College of Probate Judges.

Mr. Oldman has been selected as a Southern California Super Lawyer and as a Best Lawyer.

Edgar Saenz, Esq.
Principal/Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law
Law Office of Edgar Saenz

Edgar Saenz is a Los Angeles estate planning attorney and graduate of Stanford Law School.   He is a member of several bar trust and estate sections.  He serves on numerous community and professional boards, including past president of the Westchester Rotary Club (2013-2014) board member of the LAX Area Chamber of Commerce.  Edgar is rated AV by Martindale Hubbell.

Edgar has performed pro bono legal services for the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice and other nonprofits. 

He has been a judge pro tem with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Lauriann Wright, Esq.
Wright Kim Douglas ALC

Lauriann Wright is an experienced probate litigator and estate planner located in Glendale California. For over 20 years, she has been practicing all phases of probate law and litigation, including conservatorships, guardianships, trusts, and probate estates, throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties. She has been named as a Southern California Super Lawyer in Trust and Estate Litigation for five consecutive years, from 2012 through 2016. For 2016, she will also be listed as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" in Litigation by Best Lawyers. She was recently named as a member of the National Advocates: Top 100 of Wills, Trust, and Estates Lawyers. 

Ms. Wright has conducted numerous contested probate bench trials, dozens of depositions, and written and argued several probate appeals. She has successfully represented professional fiduciaries in contested and protracted probate litigation proceedings in numerous multi-million dollar trusts and estates. She has also served as a fiduciary herself through court appointments as a receiver for real property, guardian ad litem, and trustee. Ms. Wright has worked with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office on numerous financial elder abuse cases and has been able to successfully recover substantial assets for the elderly victims. She is also a member of the Los Angeles County Probate Volunteer Panel as well as the Trusts and Estates Sections of the State Bar and the Los Angeles County Bar. Ms. Wright has completed and continues to participate in substantial continuing legal education course work in specialized probate law topics.

Four key qualities make Ms. Wright an effective advocate for her clients: (1) a keen understanding of probate law and procedure, garnering the respect of her fellow attorneys and bench officers; (2) thoroughness and attention to detail; (3) expansive litigation experience from a concurrent business litigation practice; and (4) social intelligence and understanding of the emotionally charged nature of probate disputes.

In addition to her probate experience, Ms. Wright is also an experienced business litigator, knowledgeable in all phases of civil litigation, including jury and bench trials in both state and federal courts. Her practice focuses on business and probate litigation. She has briefed and argued cases in appellate matters, including the successful, published opinion in Soderberg v. McKinney, 44 Cal. App. 4th 1760, 52 Cal. Rptr. 2d 635 (1996) which reversed the law on real estate appraiser liability in California. Ms. Wright also consults and advises corporate clients on litigation, real estate, and business matters and drafts agreements. Through her business litigation experience, she has substantial knowledge in the areas of commercial finance, factoring, real estate, construction defect, intellectual property, and complex litigation.

Ms. Wright graduated from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1994 with her Juris Doctorate, including a semester of specialized coursework in international law completed at University of Leiden Law School, Leiden, the Netherlands. Ms. Wright was admitted to the California Bar in December 1994 and is admitted to practice in all the California state and federal trial and appellate courts.


Audio Recording & Materials Package – CD or Download: $425

For CDs please add $7.50 shipping and, in CA,  sales tax.

The program recording date is November 10, 2017.

CLE Credit


CA General:  This program is approved for 7.5 units of general CLE in California.

CA Certified Legal Specialist:  This program is approved for 7.5 units of Certified Legal Specialization Credit in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law.


This program is approved for CLE in the states listed above.  Upon request, Pincus Pro Ed will provide any information an attorney needs to support their application for CLE approval in other states other than what is listed above.


Terms and Policies

Recording policy: No audio or video recording of any program is permitted.

Seminar Cancellations: Should you be unable to attend for any reason, please inform us in writing no later than 14 days prior to the event and a credit voucher will be issued. If you prefer, a refund, less a $50 non-refundable deposit, will be issued. No refunds or credits will be given for cancellations received within 14 days of an event. However, if you notify us within 14 days of an event, and wish to convert your in-person attendance registration to an Audio CD package (with handout), we can do so. A small additional shipping charge, and sales tax in CA, will be incurred. No shipping charge is incurred for downloads. We will also issue a voucher for the amount paid if you notify us within 14 days and prefer not to have the audio recording.

Substitutions may be made at any time.

Webinars, Tele-seminars and Webcast Cancellations: Once log-in codes and passwords are issued for a webinar, tele-seminars or webcasts, a refund is not possible. If for any reason you cannot attend the event after you have received the codes, we will automatically convert your registration to an instant streaming/instant download or CD format and provide you with the information you need to access the recording after the program concludes and the recording is available.  Conversions to CD require a $7.50 shipping fee, and in CA, 9% sales tax.

Downloads/CDs/DVDs – Refund policy:

Downloads are non-returnable/non-refundable once purchased and received. Tapes, CDs and DVDs are returnable for a full refund or replacement if defective, within 90 days of purchase.

Reminder: The room temperature at hotels and other seminar locations are notoriously hard to control. Please bring a sweater or jacket in case it gets cold and/or layer as if you are going to the movies so you are comfortable.

$425.00 each

Recorded in 2017.