Monday, March 16, 2009
Diane J. Klein (Visiting Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law and Associate Professor of Law, University of LaVerne College of Law) has recently published her article entitled “Go West, Disappointed Heir”: Tortious Interference with Expectation of Inheritance—A Survey with Analysis of State Approaches in the Pacific States, 13 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. 209 (2009).
Here is a summary of her article:
This Article is the fifth piece of a nationwide survey and analysis of tortious interference with expectation of inheritance, which offers a civil remedy to a person who believes that another has wrongfully interfered with an inheritance, legacy, or lifetime gift the donor intended the aggrieved person to receive. This in personam remedy is awarded by the civil court, not the probate court, and damages are paid by the tortfeasor, not the estate. To some courts and commentators, the need for such a cause of action is obvious, and acute: a variety of wronged persons, who lack standing in the probate court or are otherwise unable to prove up their legacy there, are left remediless without the tort, while wrongdoers can act with impunity. To others, the tort is an equally obvious improper and unnecessary incursion on the probate court’s special procedures and evidentiary requirements, developed over centuries for determining whether testators and trust settlors have made valid and enforceable gifts, and distributing their assets accordingly.
This short Article surveys and analyzes the cases from Oregon, which recognizes the tort; and California, Hawai’i, and Washington, which do not. (Alaska has no cases yet mentioning it.) The Article includes a comprehensive and up-to-date state-by-state listing of cases involving the tort.