It’s fairly common for an estate planner to meet with a client who wishes to cut one or more of his or her intestate heirs out of the estate plan. Like Miss Birdie in “The Rainmaker,” they look at you and say “cut, cut, cut!” But is leaving nothing to an intestate heir or previously included beneficiary really a good idea? Or, should you counsel your clients to give such folks something to think about?
Updated 2/1/18: In Gaynor v Bulen (Jan. 23, 2018, D070907) 2018 Cal App Lexis 53, the court held that a petition alleging that trust assets were improperly used in probate litigation was not a cause of action arising from protected activity under the anti-SLAPP statute. Although the alleged breach of loyalty may have been carried out by the filing of probate petitions, the petitioning activity itself was not the basis of the claim.
Despite its name, a statute designed to deter strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) has been applied to a variety of private disputes, including probate proceedings, as a recent decision illustrates.