Part II - Code of Civil Procedure section 1013 Does Not Extend the Statute of Limitations for Petitions to Contest a Trust Provided Under Probate Code section 16061.8

As noted in our previous blog on Bridgeman v. Allen (--- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, Cal.App. 4 Dist., August 30, 2013), Edward Bridgeman (plaintiff and appellant) appealed the probate court's judgment sustaining Beverly Brito's (trustee, objector and respondent) demurrer and finding Edward's petition untimely under Probate Code section 16061.8. Edward argued that since he lives outside of California, then Code of Civil Procedure section 1013 applies to extend his time to file his petition by 10 days or until November 18, the day after he initially submitted his petition for filing.

The Court of Appeal disagreed with Edward stating that Code of Civil Procedure section 1013 is a general statute that applies only in the absence of an exception expressly created by statute or rules. The Probate Code has such an exception which is provided under section 1215 which authorizes by mail and specifies when mailing is complete for purposes of calculating applicable deadlines. Specifically, section 1215 subdivision (e) states that "when the notice or other paper is deposited in the mail, mailing is complete and the period of notice is not extended." Read together, sections 16061.8 and 1215 basically provides that an action to contest the trust must be made within 120 days from the date the notification was placed in the mail. Mailing is deemed complete and may not be extended when the notice is "deposited in the mail." Because the Probate Code has provided its own rule, Code of Civil Procedure section 1013 does not apply. Edward's petition was, therefore, untimely filed.

The Court further noted that Edward's petition did not relate back to his earlier petition challenging the amendment to the trust, which was dismissed "without prejudice" since the trust was still revocable at that time and he had no standing to pursue an action. The probate court's ruling in that case allowed Edward to submit a new petition when the trust became irrevocable, but did not eliminate time restrictions for taking an action. The Court of Appeal further stated that "allowing the relation back doctrine to apply under these facts would defeat the purpose of section 16061.81, which is to impose a clear deadline to file any action contesting a trust. If the relation back doctrine applied here, then any individual that filed an action contesting a trust while the trust was revocable would have an indefinite time period to file a similar action once the trust became irrevocable." Accordingly, the Court of Appeal affirmed the probate court's judgment.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.

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