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Winter 2015 Bar Question 6

Wills & Trusts

  Question
 

In 2011, Tess, age 85, executed a valid will, leaving all her property in trust for her grandchildren, Greg and Susie.  Income from the trust was to be distributed to the grandchild or grandchildren then living each year.  At the death of the last grandchild, any remaining assets were to go to Zoo for the care of its elephants.

In 2012, the court appointed Greg as conservator for Tess, because of Tess’s failing mental abilities.

In 2013, the court authorized Greg to make a new will for Tess.  Greg made a new will for Tess leaving Tess’s entire estate to Susie and himself outright.  Greg, without consulting Tess, then signed the will, in the presence of two disinterested witnesses, who also signed the will.

In 2014, Tess found a copy of the will drafted by Greg, and became furious.  She immediately called her lawyer, described her assets in detail, and instructed him to draft a new will leaving her estate in trust to Susie alone and excluding Greg.  Income from the trust was to be distributed to Susie each year.   At Susie’s death, any remaining assets were to go to Zoo for the care of its elephants.  The new will was properly executed and witnessed.

In 2015, Tess died. That same year, Zoo’s only remaining elephant died.

Zoo has petitioned the court to modify the trust to provide for the care of its animals generally.

1.     Is Zoo’s petition likely to be granted?  Discuss.

2.     What rights, if any, do Greg, Susie, and Zoo have in Tess’s estate?
Discuss.  Answer according to California law.

All questions © 2015 California State Bar Exam. All rights reserved


Answer

Will & Trusts
Question 6, Winter 2015

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