In the estate of Oligario Lira, the petitioner, Mary Ratcliff, appealed the trail court's decision claiming that the trial court made a mistake in finding that Probate Code section 21351 subdivision (a) exempted the transfers to the stepson beneficiaries since Oligario was no longer married to Mary Terrones at the time of his death. Accordingly, Oligario was no longer related by marriage to his stepsons. Mary R. further argued that the statute is unclear and must be interpreted to require that the relationship exist at the time of death. The Court of Appeal disagreed with Mary R.'s argument.
The Court of Appeal held that section 21351, subdivision (a) disqualification exemption applies where the transferor and transferee are related at the time that the transferor executed the will and trust. The statute does not require that they be related upon the transferor's death. In this particular case, Oligario and his stepsons were related by marriage at the time he executed his will and trust. Accordingly, the transfers were deemed valid and the Court of Appeal affirmed the findings of the trial court.
*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.