Problems with Invalid Statutory Will Forms in California

Sometimes, people sign statutory will forms which end up being invalid in California.  Our law firm has been advising clients regarding the problems with the use of Statutory Will forms in California for over three decades.

What makes a California Statutory Will invalid?

The manner in which the statutory will is executed may itself invalidate the will.   These types of will have to be completed by the testator.  People who try to fill these out for their parents often create a problem with admission of these types of wills, when will contests come about.

Faulty execution or signing and create problems with wills.  Moreover, faulty witnessing can also lead to particular will admission problems.   For example, if the witnesses do not view the testator sign the will, and do not sign the witness provisions in presence of the testator (that is the person who creates the will), then the statutory will is not validly signed.

What else makes for a bad California Statutory Will?

The California Statutory will provisions tend to be a somewhat confusing part of California Probate Code.   While the legislature has tried to make it simple, it is actually quite complicated.   You can inadvertently mark more than one box, which invalidates that provision.  You can fail to mark a box, which then creates other problems.  More than once box checked, invalidates that gift.  No box checked invalidates the provision.  The result of invalid gifts and residuary provisions is that heirs-at-law get the estate.  The result is the same as intestacy or having no will at all.

How do you avoid problems with wills?

Having an attorney drafted will avoids the common types of problems with the statutory will.  You will get advice, and there is someone to double check every aspect of the will.   People who want to engage in self-help wills must be made aware of the potentials for problems of selt-help will forms.

Call Mina Sirkin, Los Angeles Will Attorney who is certified as a specialist in probate and estate planning to help you with problems involving statutory wills at 818.340.4479 or email:




Is Probate Always Necessary? Advice from Mina Sirkin

Is probate always necessary?  Not always.  Where there are alternatives to probate that have been set up during a person’s life, probate can be avoided in most situations. Ask us about the alternatives to probate.

How to determine if an asset needs to be probated?

First you look at the type of asset:

If the asset is of a type that can have a beneficiary, start there first.   Find out if there are any named beneficiaries.  If there are named beneficiaries who are alive, then probate would generally not ben necessary for that asset.

Then, look at the totality of assets which do not have beneficiary designations, and are not jointly owned.

If the total of those assets is below $150,000, then it is likely that no probate will be needed.

Sometimes, a probate is started for the purposes of shortening a creditor’s claim period.

Ask if there is a Trust and a Pour over will.   Sometimes we can avoid probate by bringing assets into an existing trust, even after death, via a special petition.

Call Mina Sirkin, Trust and Estate attorney in Los Angeles at 818.340.4479 or email us at



Los Angeles probate attorney advises about when co-executors have a dispute

When Co-Executors Fight…

When co-executors have been appointed to manage assets of the estate, it is very common that disputes arise which need to be handled.  Unfortunately, it frequently puts the Los Angeles probate attorney in a conflict, when a dispute arises and the lawyer represents both co-executors, it creates a conflict of interest for the lawyer and brings the estate to a halt. The lawyer is then forced to advise each of his/her co-executor clients to seek separate counsel.

This can happen when the co-executors are also beneficiaries.  It can also happen when the co-executors are just administering the estate.   Examples of disputes among co-executors are as follows:

  1.  Disputes about the sales price of the home.
  2.  Inventory disputes.
  3.  Rent collection disputes.
  4.  Reimbursement disputes.
  5.  Accounting Disputes.

What are some simple solutions to co-executor disputes?

Here are some of the things a co-executor can do to resolve the disputes with another co-executor:

  1.  Sit down and talk.
  2.  Go to mediation.
  3.  Have a neutral executor appointed, such as a professional fiduciary.
  4.  Agree to submit the matter for a Petition for Instructions to the court.
  5.  Agree to submit the disputed items to a probate arbitrator.

What really happens when co-executors fight?

When two co-executors fight, they cannot be represented by one lawyer.  Ultimately, each will have to seek separate probate lawyers which increases the inefficiency in managing the probate estate and the potential cost of litigation.    Selecting an informal tie-breaker before co-executors are appointed can help in managing and resolving potential disputes.  If you are a co-executor, we encourage you to sit together and come up with a plan on how to resolve any c-executor disputes.

If you are having trouble with another co-executor, call Mina Sirkin, probate attorney in Los Angeles who is a Board Certified Specialist helping people resolve probate disputes.  Call 818-340-4479 or Email.

CCP 664.6 Enforcement of Settlements New 2017 California Case

On November 29, 2017, California Court of Appeal published a new opinion regarding the requirements of the enforcement language in settlement agreements.

In SHAUNAK SAYTA, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. EDMUND CHU et al.,, the Court was asked to enforce a written settlement agreement.   The court refused to enforce the settlement agreement because the parties failed to request retention of jurisdiction at a hearing and in the settlement agreement, before the dismissal.  The court based its decision on the fact that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain the motion because the language in the settlement was insufficient.

The Court concluded that the language of the settlement agreement musts state that the parties request that the court retain jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.   The court stated that “By its very terms, section 664.6 is limited to settlements reached in pending litigation.” (Viejo Bancorp, Inc. v. Wood (1989) 217 Cal.App.3d 200, 206 (Viejo Bancorp).) . Therefore, if you dismiss the case before the request is made, then the court loses jurisdiction.

Here the court based its conclusion that, . . . the court lost subject matter jurisdiction when the parties filed a voluntary dismissal of the entire cause. Since subject matter jurisdiction cannot be conferred by consent, waiver, or estoppel, the court cannot ‘retain’ jurisdiction it has lost.” (Viejo Bancorp, at pp. 206–207.)

The moral of the story is, that the Parties during some proceeding before a dismissal, must request that the court retain jurisdiction.   This case is important for all civil, probate and trust settlements, and for attorneys to review.   For probate and trusts attorneys, it appears that the court wants parties to appear, to ask the court to retain jurisdiction to enforce, and not to dismiss the case before the court makes an order retaining jurisdiction for enforcement purposes.

Call Mina Sirkin, probate attorney about probate and trust settlement requirements in Los Angeles California. Call 818.340.4479.


Role of a Petition for Instructions in Los Angeles Probate

Petition for Instructions

When a Los Angeles probate executor or trustee of a trust is uncertain about an action, he or she files a petition for instructions in court to determine the best course of action.

There are many times where the executor cannot determine what the be course of action would be with respect to a certain issue.

Some examples of a matters which may require instructions are:

  1. Whether the trustee or executor should sell the house when there beneficiaries all do not get along.
  2. Another example may be instructions as to whether a beneficiary should be able to live in the decedent’s home during trust administration or probate administration.
  3.  Other times, the instructions sought may involve matters where the trustee or executor is also a beneficiary.   Where there is a potential for conflict, the trustee or executor can inform the court of the potential for conflict and ask whether he or she can act as to that matter

Function of a Petition for instructions

The function of the Petition for Instructions is several fold:

A.  The instruction by the court when followed by the trustee, relieves the trustee of liability with respect to that specific issue.

B.   The Petition for Instruction serves as a tool to bring beneficiaries to court and to give them notice of what the trustee or executor wants to do, so there is transparency in the actions  of the trustee or executor.

C.   The Petition is also used to create clarity for all fiduciaries and beneficiaries involved in the case as to the contents of the petition.

What to do when you receive a Petition for Instruction in the mail?

To find out what you should do if you have been served with a petition for instructions filed by a trustee or executor, call Mina Sirkin, Specialist in Trust and Probate in Los Angeles California at 818-340-4479 or Email:   Find us at

Probate Litigation

Probate Litigation Los Angeles  

Los Angeles, Ca:   Mina N. Sirkin is a Los Angeles, California Board Certified Specialist trust litigation attorney in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California who practices trust estate litigation. Our main office serves all of Los Angeles County, and our attorneys can help you and your family with trust litigation and mediation legal representation in Los Angeles.


Legal services:


  •     Probate Litigation


  •     Trust Litigation


  •     Estate Litigation Los Angeles Attorneys
  •     Probate Code 850 Actions: Litigating Recovery of Trust Assets


  •     Trust Contests
  •     Litigation Involving Validity or Invalidity of a Trust or Amendment


  •     Elder Law Litigation & Financial Elder Abuse
  •     Trust Estate Litigation Los Angeles


  •     Will Contests
  •     Disputes about Appointment of an Executor or Trustee

Ms. Sirkin is admitted to practice in the following Courts:

1992-Admitted to Practice in All California Courts

1992-Federal Court- Central District of California

1992-Federal Court, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Bar Memberships:


State Bar of California, Trust & Estates Section

Los Angeles County Bar Association, Trusts & Estates Section

Beverly Hills Bar Association- Trust & Estates Section

San Fernando Valley Bar Association – Trust and Estate Section

American Bar Association

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)


Probate Attorneys

University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. 1988

Whittier School of Law, J.D. 1991

Golden Gate University School of Law, LLM, (Taxation), 1998

Television Appearances:

Ms. Sirkin served as the Legal Expert and Commentator: CBS 2/ KCAL-9 TV. Prime-time News covering the Anna Nicole Smith Case.

CNN Legal Expert on the Estate of Michael Jackson. re the Estate of Bobbie Brown.

Recently Quoted In:

CNN and Fortune Small Business: Jan. 10, 2008, What to do before you launch.

NY Times: March 18, 2008, Breaking the Silence

Health Care Risk Management: August 2008: Know what to do when faced with suit. February 2009. What to do if your retail credit card issuer goes bankrupt.

MSNBC: March 9, 2009, When a celebrity endorsement sours.

Probate Attorneys Los Angeles Trust Litigation Attorney

MSN Money: March 2009, The Making of Ivanka Trump.

Probate Attorney Los Angeles California, October 2009, 9 Key Estate Planning Tools

Media Expert, 2009-2015


NPR News



Trust Litigation Attorney Los Angeles

Awards and Designations:

Winner of the American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law in 1990.

Winner of the California Tax Bar Scholarship in 1997.

Super Lawyers 2010.

Certification and Specialization:

Ms. Sirkin is a Certified Specialist attorney in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. Probate Attorneys.

Publications and Teaching Experience:

Los Angeles County Bar Association, Trusts & Estates Section News, Internet Sites for Estate Planners.


Instructor, Los Angeles County Bar Association: DPCDA and Conservatorships


Instructor and Co-Author, Probate Start to Finish (2006), National Business Institute. Probate Lawyers


Co-Instructor, Estate & Trust Education Resource: (2007) “Prep Course for the Certified Specialist Exam in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate,” Los Angeles, CA and San Jose, CA.


Published Case: Student v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2007) OAH: N 2006120552


Featured Speaker, What law schools don’t teach you about the “Science of Marketing.” (2008). Peter Port Productions.


Speaker, Estate, Financial and Health Care Planning for Elder Clients (Nov. 2008). National Business Institute.


Co-Author, Estate and Tax Planning: Qualified Retirement Plans and IRAs (Jan. 2009), National Business Institute.


Instructor, Elder Abuse Litigation, LAPA 35th Annual Meeting (2011)


Instructor, Elder Abuse (Advanced Probate)

LAPA 38th Annual Meeting (2014)


Instructor, Lorman, Elder Abuse Litigation (2014)

Other Activities:

·         PVP Panel Member, Los Angeles County

·         Settlement Officer Panel Member, Los Angeles Superior Court

Evan R. Sirkin is an expert attorney in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law in California.

Estate Planning Attorney San Fernando Valley

Mr. Sirkin is admitted to practice in the following Courts:

1990-Admitted to Practice in All California Courts

San Fernando Valley Woodland Hills Probate Trust Litigation Lawyers Attorneys

Bar Memberships:

·         State Bar of California, Trust & Estates Section

·         Los Angeles County Bar Association, Trusts & Estates Section

·         San Fernando Valley Bar Association


·         University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. 1985

·         Loyola Law School, J.D. 1988

Legal services include:

·         Estate Planning

·         Living Trust Formation and Administration

·         Conservatorship

·         Special Needs Trust Creation and Planning

·         Guardianship

·         Probate

·         Entity Formation, including LLCs, Corporations, & Partnerships

Marilyn Mamann (1946-2010)



Main Office:

21550 Oxnard Street, Third Floor
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Phone:  818. 340. 4479
Fax:      818. 340. 7952

West Los Angeles
11400 Olympic Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: 800-300-9977

19800 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 500
Irvine, CA 92715
Tel: 800-300-9977

LAX area
6601 Center Drive West, Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Tel: 800-300-9977

Downtown Los Angeles
445 N. Figueroa St., Suite 2600
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Tel: 800-300-9977

450 North Brand Blvd., Suite 600
Glendale, CA 91203
Tel: 800-300-9977

225 South Lake Ave., Suite 300
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tel: 800-300-9977

Litigating a Trust Case? If you would like to get more information regarding Trust litigation in Los Angeles, California, click here.

Who should you call for Probate in Los Angeles? Sirkin Law

Who should you call for Probate in Los Angeles?​


Free Probate Attorney Call for Consultation : Call us when you need a free probate consultation.

When you need a free probate consultation regarding Wills, Probate and Estate matters in Los Angeles to evaluate your case, you should find and consult an attorney who has more than twenty years of experience inProbate in Los Angeles.  We promptly return all calls.

You should consult with our probate attorneys in the following probate estate circumstances:

1.  You believe there was fraud or forgery involved regarding a Will in Probate.

2.   You believe someone influenced the decedent to write a will or trust which he or she otherwise would not have signed.

3.   There was any type of fraud involved in an estate or by the executor.

4.    An executor has not filed an accounting within a year from the start of probate.

5.    Executor or Administrator has not filed an inventory.

6.    The elderly decedent was abused during his or her lifetime.

7.    There are assets which should belong to the estate but which someone else claims or owns.

8.    Decedent was in the middle of a sale, or transaction, and he or she died.

9.    There is sibling rivalry in the family regarding who should own the assets of a parent, or deceased person and a family member needs a free probate consultation in Los Angeles, CA.

10.  There needs to be a conservator appointed for a family member or loved one.

11.  A fiduciary, executor, administrator, trustee or agent under a power of attorney has not met his or her duties or responsibilities.

12.   Assets need to be returned to a person, estate or trust.

13.   A probate executor, trustee, conservator or power of attorney agent has not accounted or is late in accounting.

Contact or Call Mina Sirkin, Probate Law Certified Specialist Probate Lawyer  for a Free Probate Consultation in Los Angeles. Call 818.340.4479  or Email: