On the final day left to him under the California constitution, Governor Brown signed into law the last bill of 2014 containing resolutions from the Conference of California Bar Associations (CCBA). AB 2747, an omnibus measure authored by the Democratic members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, contained provisions enacting two CCBA resolutions and making important refinements in CCBA-sponsored legislation enacted last year.
The signing brings the final tally for 2014 to 13 bills and 16 resolutions signed into law.
Although AB 2747 was an omnibus measure, it was not a bill that made only technical corrections; several provisions of the measure, including two of the CCBA-sponsored sections, made significant changes to the law.
The most significant of these changes revised and added several provisions of the Government Code (§§68631, 68631.5, and 68632) to reinstate the authority of the courts to base decisions to grant a fee waiver in cases regarding conservatorships or guardianships on the financial resources of the proposed conservatee or ward, not upon the resources of the person applying on the proposed conservatee or ward’s behalf. This provision (CCBA Resolution 04-06-2012 by San Bernardino County Bar Association delegate Karin Horspool), increases access to justice and protects vulnerable people by encouraging family and friends to file conservatorships or guardianships for those in need. It was co-sponsored by Bet Tzedek Legal Services and Public Counsel.
A second CCBA–sponsored provision of the bill amends Probate Code §6401 to remove the specific reference to “surviving domestic partner” that became obsolete when spouses and domestic partners were guaranteed the same rights and responsibilities under California law with the enactment of Family Code §297.5. This small but important change, developed by Sacramento County Bar Association delegate Mallory Lass (Resolution 07-02-2013), prevents surviving domestic partner’s from being denied an intestate share of any community or quasi-community property owned with the decedent.
The final CCBA-sponsored provision of the bill amends Evidence Code §§912 and 917 to add the lawyer referral service-client privilege established in law last year by AB 267 (Chau), a bill sponsored by the CCBA (Resolution 08-12-2012), to the lists of privileges that are waived upon disclosure by its holder (§912) and for which the communication claimed to be privileged is presumed to have been made in confidence (§917).