Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

BUSINESS

Respondent stepchild initiated an action against appellants, legatees and estate executors, in an effort to impress a constructive trust on part of the residual estate of stepchild’s stepmother. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) rendered judgment in favor of stepchild. Legatees and estate executors sought review of the judgment.

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Overview

At the time stepchild’s natural mother married stepchild’s natural father, she had substantial assets. Mother died and, under the intestate succession law, each child of the parents’ union was entitled to share in mother’s estate. Father took possession of all of mother’s assets. Subsequently, father remarried. Father died and left a holographic will in favor of his second wife. Upon stepchild’s inquiry, stepmother advised that father agreed to leave the entire estate to her, for her use during her lifetime, provided that stepmother divided the estate equally among her own children and stepchild at the time of her death. Stepmother failed to divide the estate equally and stepchild initiated an action against legatees and executors. The trial court entered judgment in favor of stepchild. In affirming, the court held that the evidence supported the trial court’s finding that there was an agreement to make a will. The court rejected the contention that the agreement was unenforceable by reason of the statute of frauds. Moreover, the court held that stepchild’s action was not barred by the statute of limitations. Lastly, the court held that there had been no accord and satisfaction.

Outcome

The court affirmed the judgment.