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Blumberg v. Minthorne

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Third Division

January 27, 2015

ADAM J. BLUMBERG, Plaintiff, Cross-Defendant and Respondent,
v.
GLORIA M. MINTHORNE, as Trustee, etc., Defendant, Cross-Complainant and Appellant.

[As modified Feb. 25, 2015.]

Appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Bernardino County No. PRODS1000744, Cynthia Ann Ludvigsen, Judge.

Page 1385

COUNSEL

Law Office of Robert E. Dougherty and Robert E. Dougherty for Defendant, Cross-Complainant and Appellant.

Page 1386

Blumberg Law Corporation and Ave Buchwald for Plaintiff, Cross-Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

MOORE, J.

This case is a dispute about the administration of a family trust and the interpretation of trust documents. At the conclusion of a bench trial, the court decided in favor of plaintiff Adam J. Blumberg, the step-grandson of defendant Gloria M. Minthorne.[1] Gloria was ordered by the court to file an accounting and quitclaim certain property to Adam. Gloria appealed. She quitclaimed that property to her daughter and failed to file the accounting.

Adam moved to dismiss the appeal, citing the disentitlement doctrine. We agree with Adam that this is one of the rare cases where applying this doctrine is appropriate due to Gloria’s flagrant violation of the court’s orders. The appeal is therefore dismissed.

I

FACTS

The Minthorne Family Living Trust (the trust) was signed by spouses Gloria and Ralph Minthorne on February 19, 2008, soon after Ralph suffered a stroke. Both had previous estate plans, written in 2007. They had been married since 2006, when Ralph was 75 and Gloria was 61.

With respect to the trust, Gloria and Ralph were both settlors; Gloria alone was named as trustee. The parties both had assets and adult children from prior marriages. Adam was one of Ralph’s grandchildren. The property in the trust included an apartment building, originally owned by Ralph, and two single-family homes (the Starshine property and the Pleasant Avenue property, respectively), previously owned by Gloria. All of these properties went into the trust.

The trust included two clauses regarding the division and distribution of the trust property after Gloria's or Ralph’s death. The first clause, section 4, stated, among other provisions, that after the death of the deceased settlor, the trustee was to allocate the entire trust estate to a survivor’s trust, and then

Page 1387

distribute the net income for the benefit of the surviving settlor in installments. The surviving settlor also had a ...


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