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Sachs v. Sachs

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

January 7, 2020

Benita SACHS, as Trustee, etc., Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Avram M. SACHS, Defendant and Appellant.

         [257 Cal.Rptr.3d 302] Superior Court County of Santa Barbara, Colleen K. Sterne, Judge (Super. Ct. No. 18PR00032)(Santa Barbara County)

Page 60

         COUNSEL

         The Stone Law Group, Kenneth H. Stone and Scott G. Braden, San Diego, for Defendant and Appellant.

         Reicker, Pfau, Pyle & McRoy, Alan A. Blakeboro, Diana Jessup Lee, Santa Barbara, and Meghan K. Woodsome, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          OPINION

         TANGEMAN, J.

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          Probate Code [1] section 21135 provides that transfers of property to a person during the transferor’s lifetime will be treated as an at death transfer to the person under certain conditions. All of these conditions [257 Cal.Rptr.3d 303] require a writing. Here we decide that the transferor’s record of amounts he periodically distributed to his children is a writing that satisfies the requirements of section 21135.

          Avram M. Sachs appeals from the probate court’s order granting a petition for instructions. (§ 17200.) The order allowed the trustee (his sister, Benita Sachs) to treat lifetime gifts to trust beneficiaries as advances on their inheritances. We affirm.

          FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         David L. Sachs had two children, Benita and Avram.[2] David established a trust in 1980 when Benita was 20 years old and Avram was 12. The trust provided for small distributions to other beneficiaries, but most of the trust corpus would be distributed to Benita and Avram equally on David’s death. David was the original trustee.

          In 1989 David began to keep track of money distributed to his children on papers he referred to as the "Permanent Record." When a child asked for money, David would tell the child that the distribution would be reflected on the Permanent Record.

          In June 2013 David began to experience cognitive problems due to a stroke. He hired Ronda Landrum as his bookkeeper to help manage his finances. At David’s instruction Landrum continued to make distributions to Avram and Benita. Landrum said David was adamant that she keep a record

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of the distributions. After a distribution was made David would often confirm that the distribution was on the list. Landrum kept a list for each child in the form of an electronic spreadsheet. David told Landrum on more than one occasion that keeping the list was important so that payments ...


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