White v. Wear, E076352

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtMcKINSTER, J.
Citation76 Cal.App.5th 24,290 Cal.Rptr.3d 876
Parties Laura WHITE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Debra WEAR, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberE076352
Decision Date08 March 2022

76 Cal.App.5th 24
290 Cal.Rptr.3d 876

Laura WHITE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Debra WEAR, Defendant and Appellant.

E076352

Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2, California.

Filed March 8, 2022


Herzog, Yuhas, Ehrlich & Ardell, Ian Herzog, Santa Monica, and Evan D. Marshall for Defendant and Appellant.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Adam F. Streisand, Nicholas J. Van Brunt and Valerie E. Alter, Los Angeles, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

McKINSTER, J.

76 Cal.App.5th 27

The parties to this appeal are no strangers to this court. This case is yet another skirmish in a long series of disagreements about the control of the multi-million-dollar estate1 of nonagenarian2 Thomas S.

290 Cal.Rptr.3d 879

Tedesco.3 Plaintiff and respondent Laura White is one of Thomas's three biological daughters and a cotrustee of his living trust. ( Conservatorship of Tedesco (Sept. 19, 2019, E070316), 2019 WL 4508965 [nonpub. opn.] review denied Dec. 18, 2019, S258835 ( Conservatorship , E070316 ).) Defendant and appellant Debra Wear aka Debbie Basara Wear is one of Thomas's stepdaughters. In 2013, Thomas suffered serious health issues, which resulted in significant cognitive impairment, leaving him susceptible to being unduly influenced by anyone close to him. Gloria Tedesco, Thomas's second wife, began denying White and her sisters access to their father, causing him to believe that they were stealing from him. Wear assisted Gloria, her mother, in unduly influencing Thomas via contacting, or facilitating access to, attorneys in order to change Thomas's estate plan to disinherit his biological family in favor of Gloria and her family. Thus, on August 13, 2015, a permanent conservator of Thomas's estate was appointed.

Despite the existence of the conservatorship, Wear continued to assist Gloria in taking actions to unduly influence Thomas to change his 30-plus-year estate plan. Consequently, upon White's petition, the superior court issued an elder abuse restraining order (EARO), restraining Wear for three years from, among other things, financially abusing Thomas, contacting him (either directly or indirectly), facilitating any change to his estate plan, coming within 100 yards of him, and possessing any guns, other firearms, and ammunition. ( Welf. & Inst. Code,4 § 15657.03.) Wear contends the EARO is void because (1) the judge was disqualified and (2) he violated due process by substantially amending the allegations in the petition and prohibiting her from possessing firearms and ammunition. She further asserts the petition fails to state a cause of action for elder financial abuse. We agree the court

76 Cal.App.5th 28

erred in including a firearms and ammunition restriction in the EARO and direct the court to strike it. Otherwise, we affirm.5

290 Cal.Rptr.3d 880

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND AND FACTS

A. Background History of the Parties.

Thomas obtained his wealth through the sale of the family business and the purchase of commercial properties. In 1988, he and his late wife Wanda created an estate plan to benefit their three daughters, White, Sandra Kay, and Julie Bas, and their grandchildren. In 1993, Thomas and Wanda created TW Tedesco Properties, L.P., a California limited partnership, and the partnership interests were subsequently transferred to the Tedesco Family Trust. Wanda died in 2002, and the Tedesco Family Trust was divided into five separate trusts, including a survivor's trust, which was renamed the Thomas S. Tedesco Living Trust (the Living Trust). ( Conservatorship , E070316.)

On March 25, 2007, Thomas married Gloria (nee Basara) who had two daughters from a prior relationship, Wear and Wendy Basara (Wendy). Their marriage was subject to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements because both Thomas and Gloria entered the marriage with multi-million dollar estates. On February 11, 2011, Thomas appointed his three daughters as his "true and lawful attorneys in fact ... to act in any lawful way for [him] and in [his] name, place and stead and for [his] use and benefit as authorized." Thomas's three daughters were authorized to transfer trust assets and file any necessary tax returns, and if a conservatorship was needed, Thomas nominated them to serve, acting by majority vote. In September 2012, W. Mae, LLC, a California limited liability company (W. Mae), was created and Thomas gifted the

76 Cal.App.5th 29

Living Trust's general partner's interest in TW Tedesco Properties, L.P. to W. Mae. On June 5, 2013, Thomas resigned as trustee of the Living Trust, and his three daughters began to serve as successor cotrustees. ( Conservatorship , E070316.) On June 29, 2013, Thomas signed an amendment to the Living Trust, prepared by his family/estate plan attorney Burton A. Mitchell (Mitchell), which made the Living Trust irrevocable and unmodifiable unless Thomas and his daughters consented in writing.

During the first six years of Thomas and Gloria's marriage, no issues were raised regarding Thomas's estate plan, which favored his biological heirs. However, in Fall 2013, after undergoing multiple surgeries, Thomas became intellectually impaired and susceptible to being unduly influenced. He ended the decades-long relationship with Mitchell, who stated: "[I]t was very difficult to communicate with his client [(Thomas)], as Gloria seemed to be blocking the calls. When [Mitchell] called, either [Thomas] was never there or someone else was on the phone. [Mitchell] related that he heard other voices in the background, particularly Gloria, telling Thomas what to say [and Mitchell] ha[d] seen scripts written for [Thomas] regarding what he [was] to say to his attorney." At the same time, White and her sisters were denied access to their father. A housekeeper, Virginia Winn, confronted Gloria and said, " ‘ "You can't keep the girls from seeing their dad. They're not stupid!" ’ " Gloria responded, "I don't care." Gloria told Thomas that his daughters were "being bad" to her, blocked his communication with his family, and attempted to erase them from his memory by removing photographs of them. Gloria prepared scripts6 for Thomas to say to Mitchell or his daughters and

290 Cal.Rptr.3d 881

caused him, for the first time, to express a desire to leave 75 percent of his estate to Gloria and 25 percent to charity.

B. The Conservatorship.

Concerned about Thomas's health and Gloria's actions, on May 2, 2014, White petitioned for the appointment of a conservator of Thomas's person, and later amended the petition to seek a conservator of his estate. Undeterred by White's petition for conservatorship of Thomas's estate, Gloria and Wear continued to influence Thomas to change his estate plan. Thus, on January 14, 2015, White applied for a restraining order against Wear on the grounds that she was " ‘scheming to sabotage [Thomas's] relationship with his daughters, attempting to have [Thomas] amend his estate plan to favor Gloria, and trying to have [Thomas's] daughters removed as trustees of the relevant trusts.’ " On January 15, 2015, White obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Wear requiring her to refrain from discussing the

76 Cal.App.5th 30

issues of the conservatorship or Thomas's estate plan, or facilitating his access to any bank, accountant, attorney, or financial planner regarding the conservatorship or his estate plan. However, because Wear did not accept service of the TRO, service of process was not completed and, as a result, there was no hearing on the restraining order.7

On June 15, 2015, after a contested trial, the probate court concluded a temporary conservator of Thomas's estate was necessary because Thomas was mentally deficient and "very susceptible to being unduly influenced."8 Thus, it appointed Kenneth F. Jenkins as the temporary conservator of Thomas's estate A permanent conservator of Thomas's estate was appointed on August 13, 2015. Nonetheless Wear, a paralegal for Russell Davis (R. Davis), facilitated Thomas's communications with R. Davis who repeatedly requested to be appointed counsel for Thomas. ( Conservatorship , E070316.) Each of R. Davis's requests for appointment were denied by the probate court, which explained that the " ‘history of this case reflects a crucial need that independent counsel represent [Thomas], meaning that counsel be not related with or retained by family members who may have or might be involved in influencing the conservatee and retained

290 Cal.Rptr.3d 882

counsel.’ "9 ( Conservatorship , E070316.)

76 Cal.App.5th 31

By 2017, R. Davis requested authority for Thomas to engage the services of the Herzog, Yuhas, Ehrlich & Ardell (The Herzog firm) and Joseph Davis (J. Davis).10 ( Conservatorship , E070316.) The Herzog firm and R. Davis have repeatedly requested the probate court terminate the conservatorship, and...

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1 practice notes
  • Fierro v. Fierro, F082213
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 21, 2022
    ...defendants and conclude the firearm and ammunition restrictions should not have been included in the EARO's. (See White v. Wear (2022) 76 Cal.App.5th 24, 34-35 [superior court erred in issuing EARO prohibiting possession of firearms and ammunition].) DISPOSITION The elder abuse restraining ......
1 cases
  • Fierro v. Fierro, F082213
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 21, 2022
    ...defendants and conclude the firearm and ammunition restrictions should not have been included in the EARO's. (See White v. Wear (2022) 76 Cal.App.5th 24, 34-35 [superior court erred in issuing EARO prohibiting possession of firearms and ammunition].) DISPOSITION The elder abuse restraining ......

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