Hon. Richard Bennett (Ret.)

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Estates/Probate/Trusts

Hon. Richard Bennett (Ret.) brings to his Estates, Probate and Trust ADR practice twenty-one years of judicial experience in the Napa County Courts, including three years as Presiding Judge and six years as Assistant Presiding Judge.  Since retirement, as an assigned judge through the Administrative Office of the Courts, Judge Bennett presided over probate assignments throughout several counties in Northern California (Alameda, Lake, Marin, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, and Solano).  While in private practice, Judge Bennett served as attorney for all Napa County Public Administrator and Public Guardian trust and estate administration.

As a full-time neutral at JAMS, Judge Bennett handles various aspects of estate, probate and trust ADR, including mediation, arbitration, private judging, discovery reference, and active case management to help develop and implement plans to keep litigation orderly and efficient with reduced conflict.

Judge Bennett’s experience in all aspects of dispute resolution in estate, probate and trust cases provides insight into the emotional issues that must be addressed in these cases.  Judge Bennett is able to assist the parties, often family members with long histories together, in reaching resolution by navigating the highly emotional dynamics of estate and trust administration, accounting and distribution.

In 2012, Judge Bennett authored an article (“Mediation of familial disputes” Recorder, May 14, 2012) addressing the resolution of complex financial and emotional issues surrounding distribution of family wealth. Judge Bennett continues to hear ongoing matters but at this time is not accepting new cases.

Representative Matters

  • Mediated probate and family trust matters involving highly emotional disputes among siblings and other relatives
  • Arbitrated probate and family trust matters involving highly emotional disputes among siblings and other relatives 
  • Presided over and decided complex probate and family trust matters involving allegations of oral promises to leave real and personal property to persons who were asked to care for the decedent during life; multiple vehicles and real property were located in California and in Italy; and the allegations of oral promises were presented with alternative claims of quantum meruit
  • Presided over and decided siblings' dueling requests for preliminary distribution in estate of their parents
  • Presided over and decided petitions for instructions in trust and probate estates
  • Presided over and decided will contests and petitions for letters
  • Presided over and decided objections to accountings; objections to fees, including extraordinary fees; objections to confirmation of sale of real property
  • Presided over and decided petitions to remove personal representatives; and for appointment of successor personal representative
  • Presided over and decided matter involving decedent’s estate, and characterization of property, date of separation, support obligation, life insurance proceeds, reimbursement, Moore/Marsden and other mixed estate and family law considerations involving the widow who had been involved in dissolution proceedings with decedent prior to his death
  • Presided over and decided estate proceedings involving substantial real property assets, the proposed sale of real property made prior to decedent’s death, occupancy of the main former family home, and claims of malfeasance by each co-trustee by the other
  • Presided over and decided petition to terminate irrevocable trust

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Admitted United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit, 1973
  • Admitted United States Supreme Court, 1976
  • Member, California Judges Association, 1985-present
    • Member, California Judges Association Family Law Committee

Background and Education

  • Graduate, Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, "Mediating the Litigated Case,” Pepperdine University, 2003
  • Assigned Judge, AOC Assigned Judges Program, 2007-2011
  • Judge, Napa Superior Court, 1996-2006 (Presiding Judge, 2001, 2002, 2005; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004)
  • Judge, Napa Municipal Court, 1985-1996 (Presiding Judge, 1987, 1990, 1993; Assistant Presiding Judge, 1994, 1995)
  • Division Chief, Napa County District Attorney’s Office, 1983-1985
  • Partner, Jones, Bennett & Cox, 1973-1982
  • Assistant City Attorney, Calistoga, California, 1975-1982
  • Counsel for Napa County Public Administrator & Public Guardian, 1973-1982
  • J.D., University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1973 (Graduating Class President)
  • B.A. in Business Administration with emphasis in Accounting, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, 1969

Disclaimer

This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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