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Estate of Heggstad

16 Cal. App. 4th 943 (1993)

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Estate of Heggstad

California Court of Appeal

16 Cal. App. 4th 943 (1993)

Facts

Halvard Heggstad created a valid revocable living trust and named himself as the initial trustee. The trust documents contained a list declaring which items of Heggstad’s property he was transferring into the trust. For almost all the real property included on the trust list, Heggstad executed deeds formally transferring the real property to himself as the trustee. However, Heggstad did not execute a deed transferring one piece of listed property, located in Menlo Park, to himself as trustee. The deed for Heggstad’s interest in this Menlo Park property remained in Heggstad’s name with no reference to the trust. After Heggstad’s death, it was unclear whether the Menlo Park property was trust property that should be distributed to a trust beneficiary or whether it still belonged to Heggstad and should be distributed to Heggstad’s heirs as part of his estate. The probate court ruled that, by itself, Heggstad’s written declaration that he intended to transfer the Menlo Park property into the trust was enough to complete the transfer. Thus, the property belonged to the trust, not Heggstad’s estate, at Heggstad’s death. A beneficiary of Heggstad’s estate appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Phelan, J.)

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