10100 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA
David Nelson is a past chair of the firm’s Los Angeles Trusts and Estates Practice Group. His practice concentrates on trust, probate and conservatorship litigation including: litigation and disputes involving trusts, decedents’ estates and conservatorships; will and trust contests; breach of fiduciary duty claims; and interpretation of testamentary instruments. Mr. Nelson also has an appellate practice. His principal clients are banks, trust companies and other fiduciaries, as well as trust and estate beneficiaries.
On appeals and cross-appeal from a probate court order, achieved a complete victory for his trustee clients by: (a) obtaining affirmance of rulings that proposed creditor's claims against a trust by the settlor's former wife and two of his children seeking to enforce support and other rights under a marital dissolution judgment would violate the trust's no contest clause; and (b) winning reversal of a ruling that enforcement of the no contest clause with respect to a proposed family law order to show cause seeking increased child support for the children would violate public policy. The court of appeal's published decision decides important public policy issues concerning enforcement of no contest clauses. [Colburn v. The Northern Trust Company (2007) 151 Cal.App.4th 439].
Successfully represented the Trustees of the Hearst Family Trust, created under the Will of William Randolph Hearst, in obtaining: (a) a trial court order precluding Trust beneficiaries' claims challenging the Trustees' management of a Trust-owned corporation (The Hearst Corporation); and (b) affirmance of that order by the Court of Appeal in a published appellate decision. [Hearst v. Ganzi (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 1195].
Won summary judgment on behalf of a trust beneficiary determining that individuals adopted as adults by the settlor's daughter are not included in the class of trust remaindermen composed of the daughter's living lawful issue. The Court of Appeal affirmed the probate court's determination of this issue of first impression in a published appellate decision. [Ehrenclou v. MacDonald (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 364].
Handled trial court proceedings and appeal resulting in the most significant published California appellate court statement regarding when a no-contest clause will be denied enforceability because of public policy considerations (successfully reversing an adverse trial court ruling and leading to significant legislative changes in the California Probate Code). [Estate of Ferber (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 244].
Won summary judgment in favor of the trustees of the Mark Hughes Family Trust in an action to remove and surcharge the trustees based on allegations that the trustees exploited the trust's majority ownership in Herbalife International to enrich and entrench themselves with golden parachutes, poison pills and other similar antitakeover devices. Obtained affirmance on appeal. In a separate appeal, also obtained affirmance on behalf of the trustees of an order approving a transaction implementing a tax strategy that saved the trust more than $150 million in estate taxes.
Serves as trust counsel for the J. David Gladstone Institutes, a charitable trust created under the will of J. David Gladstone for the purpose of supporting research in the areas of cardiovascular disease, HIV and AIDS, and Alzheimer's disease.
Obtained a complete defense judgment on behalf of a corporate trustee against six-figure claims arising out of the trustee's investment decisions.
Successfully defended trustees against a $57 million surcharge and removal petition. The trustees paid nothing in the resolution of the case.
- Speaker, No-Contest Clauses: What Does the Future Hold? (May, June and September 2008; January 2009)
- Author, Inclusion of Adoptees in Class Gifts to Issue: The Uncertainties and Incongruities of Probate Code Section 21115, California Trusts and Estates Quarterly (Fall 2006)
- Speaker, Taking Charge of the New Notice Rules (April 2005)
- Speaker, Trust and Estate Litigation: Pointers and Pitfalls (October 2004)
- Speaker, The Impact of Moeller v. Superior Court on a Trustee's Attorney-Client Privilege (Winter 1997-1998)
- Speaker, Issues Facing a Corporate Fiduciary in Administering a Family Corporation (April 1995)
Past Chair, Trusts and Estates Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association (2007-2008)
Founding Editor and Current Co-Editor, Trusts and Estates Bulletin, Trusts and Estates Section, Los Angeles County Bar Association
Member, Appellate Courts Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association
Member, Trusts and Estates Section, California State Bar Association
Member, Litigation Section, California State Bar Association
- Honorary Member, Litigator’s Liaison Committee, Southern California Mediation Association
- Named "Best Lawyer" in Trust and Estate Litigation, The Best Lawyers in America, published by Woodward White, Inc. (2009-2014)
- Named in "Southern California Super Lawyers" in Trust & Estate Litigation and Appellate, a Thomson Reuters business (2005-2013)
- Highest "AV Preeminent (5 out of 5)" Professional Rating, Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1986
Pacific Union College, B.S., 1982
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 1997
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, 1987