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Law Offices of John H. Carmichael John H. Carmichael, Esq. (196416)

Law Offices of John H. Carmichael John H. Carmichael, Esq. (196416)

13700 Cimarron Avenue Gardena, California 90249

Telephone: 310.345.2525 Email: jhclaw@gmail.com

Attorney for Claimant Connor Cochran

 
 
 

SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

 

FOR THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE

 

In the Matter of:

Case. No.MCP14 0 0Q9 2

 

Estate of Doris COCHRAN,

Hon.

 

Decedant.

PETITION TO INVALIDATE TRUST AMENDMENT

 
 

Hearing:

4 \ 1\ \ l.\;

 

T\

 
 
 

INTRODUCTION

 

Comes now Petitioner Connor Cochran,

son and heir of Doris Cochran,

Petitioning the Court for an order (1) Requiring the Trustee of his late mother's

Trust (Steven Cochran) to provide a copy of said Trust and the Amendment to

Petitioner forthwith and (2) to invalidate the Trust Amendment:

 

1.

The Decedent, Doris Cochran ("Doris"), died in Riverside County on

September 23, 2013. See Declaration of Connor Cochran, 'If 4, attached to this

Petition as Exhibit A and fully incorporated herein.

 

2.

Doris is succeeded by three sons, the moving party Connor Cochran, as

well as Steven Cochran and Kevin Cochran. C. Cochran Decl. '11'11 5-8.

 

3.

Steven informed Connor that he has been "cut out" of Doris' original

Trust document by a subsequent amendment. Exhibit A to C. Cochran Decl.

 

4.

Steven claimed he had been advised by an unnamed attorney that he

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

 

PAGE 1

could "proceed? doing whatever it is he believes a Trustee can and should do

under a California Trust. Exhibit A to C. Cochran Decl.

 

5.

However, Steven has not sent or otherwise provided Connor with a

copy of either the June 3, 1997 Trust or the November 29, 1999 alleged

amendment thereto, despite Connor's timely written request for such a copy.

 

6.

By this Petition, Connor respectfully requests this Court to issue an

order requiring Steven Cochran to comply with that provision of California law

forthwith by sending such trust to Connor's representative immediately.

 

7.

Secondly, because Steven has indicated an intent to "proceed" without

specifying what that means (Exhibit A to C. Cochran Decl.), Petitioner can only

assume he means to distribute the assets of the Trust, if any, to himself and any

other beneficiaries as stated on the purported Amendment thereto, without prior

notification to Connor.

 

8.

Petitioner has been informed, but has not been able to confirm through

examination, that the Trust and purported Trust Amendment exist and that the

purported Trust Amendment "cuts him out" of the terms of the original Trust.

 

9.

Petitioner asserts the purported Trust Amendment was accomplished

through the undue influence, fraud, and preying upon the mental incapacity of

Doris Cochran by other beneficiaries of the Trust; through misconduct by

unrelated third parties; or both. On this basis, Petitioner alleges:

 
 

ALLEGATIONS

10.

Petitioner is the beneficiary of a testamentary trust created by Doris

Cochran as described in this Petition.

 

11.

At all times relevant to the allegations in this petition, Petitioner was a

At all times relevant to the allegations m this petition, Settlor was a

resident of the State of California.

 

13.

On or about September 23, 2013, the Settlor, a resident of the County

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

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25 resident of the State of California.

26 12.

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of Riverside in a nursing facility, died in the County of Riverside. Settlor had

three children during her lifetime.

 

14.

Under the terms of the Trust as initially created by Settlor, Doris

Cochran, Settlor left her entire estate to her three children. Under the alleged

terms of the purported Amendment, Settlor instead excluded Petitioner and left

her entire estate to only two of her three children.

 

15.

Already, Kevin Cochran has revealed in telephone conversations with

Connor that he has received assets from Settlor's estate for various purposes.

See C. Cochran Dec!.

~~ 11,

12 and

13.

16.

In a telephone conversation between Kevin Cochran and Connor

Cochran on or about October 8, 2013, Connor learned from Kevin that:

 
 

(a)

Connor's ex-wife Gloria Cheng had remained in close personal

contact with Doris, Steven, and Kevin after Connor and Gloria divorced in 1999;

 
 

(b)

Following the divorce, Gloria convinced the remainder of the

Cochran family to pay her "a significant sum of money" (Kevin's words) that

Connor purportedly owed to Gloria;

 
 

(c)

This money had been paid to Gloria by Steven, who was then

reimbursed by Doris;

 
 

(d)

The purported Trust Amendment was made under the undue

influence of Gloria and Steven, acting together or separately;

 
 

(e)

The purported Trust Amendment was procured directly or

indirectly in reliance upon allegations of fact made by Gloria and/ or Steven;

 
 

(0 During the year prior to her death, Doris expressed to Kevin that

she wanted to correct this situation - "disinheritance" of Connor - and "make

things right" (Kevin's words) regarding Connor;

 
 

(g)

Despite being informed by Kevin that an equal division among the

three children was Doris's clearly expressed wish, Steven refused to take the

steps required by a fiduciary to implement the Settlor's wishes regarding the

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

 

PAGE3

trust, including explicitly refusing to bring appropriate instruments to Doris in

her nursing home or arrange for Doris to independently consult counsel; and

 

(h)

Kevin hoped Connor would accept a

radically reduced share of

Kevin's own share of the proceeds of the Trust as distributed under the

purported Amendment instead of challenging the Trust or Amendment, and

without having had an opportunity to examine the Trust or purported

Amendment.

 

17.

At all times on and after her admission to an extended-care nursing

home in Riverside County some time prior to her death, the Settlor had

substantial difficulty managing her financial resources because she suffered from

one or more of the mental deficits listed in Probate Code § 811(a)(1)-(4), as

hereinafter described.

 
 

FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION

(Undue Influence by Competing Beneficiaries)

18. Petitioner realleges and incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 17, above,

21. Settlor was, at all times relevant to this Petition, impaired in her

judgment and ability to care for herself by the effects of long-term alcohol abuse

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

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16 as though set forth herein in full.

17 19. Petitioner is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that the

18 Settlor's execution of the purported Amendment was not her free and voluntary

19 act, and that the remaining two beneficiaries under the purported Trust

20 Amendment procured the amendment by or as beneficiaries of undue influence.

21 At the time Settlor executed the purported Amendment, her mental and physical

22 condition was such that she was unable to resist undue influence.

23 20. At the time Settlor executed the purported Amendment, the remaining

24 two beneficiaries under the Trust Amendment occupied a position of trust and

25 confidence with respect to the Settlor in that, among other things, Settlor was

26 incapable of caring for herself without their assistance.

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known to each of her children, whether or not such abuse was formally

acknowledged upon her admission to the extended-care facility and whether or

not her actual consumption of alcohol had ceased or otherwise diminished.

22.

Petitioner is informed and believes that the remaining two beneficiaries

under the purported Amendment actively participated in the creation and/ or

execution of the purported Amendment without consultation with or notice to

Petitioner. Among other things, the remaining beneficiaries under the purported

Amendment arranged for an attorney to prepare the purported Amendment, told

the attorney what it should provide, and in general took an active role in the

preparation and execution of the purported Amendment.

 

23.

But for the remaining beneficiaries' undue influence and/ or that of

other third parties, the Settlor never would have excluded Petitioner from a share

of Settlor's estate.

 

24.

Further, but for Steven's undue influence and/or that of other third

parties, the Settlor would have further acted to void any exclusion of Petitioner

from Settlor's estates.

 

25.

The remaining beneficiaries would unduly profit from the Amendment

if it were given effect, in that the gifts the Amendment provides for are wholly

disproportionate to the gifts otherwise left to them under Settlor's estate planning

documents excluding the purported Amendment.

 
 

SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION

(Undue Influence by Third Parties)

26.

Petitioner realleges Paragraphs

1 through 25, above,

as though set

forth herein in full.

 

27.

On information and belief, Gloria Cheng maintained a close

relationship with Doris, Kevin, and Steven following her divorce from Connor for

purposes including, in part or in whole, continuing to simultaneously punish her

ex-husband and obtain benefits from her ex-husband's family.

 

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

 

PAGES

-----------------------------

1

28.

As described in paragraph 16 above, Gloria induced payment to her by

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Steven of moneys by means and through sources not explicitly subject to the

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divorce settlement, thus fulfilling in part the purpose alleged in paragraph 27.

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29.

On information and belief, the payment made to Gloria by Steven

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served as further inducement to Steven to mistreat Connor's prospective

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inheritance. Specifically, this payment appears to have induced Steven to fail in

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his fiduciary duty to seek to void the purported Amendment upon Settlor's wish

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to provide for Connor in her estate planning.

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30.

On information and belief, other statements made by and/ or actions

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taken by Gloria or persons acting in concert with Gloria concerning Connor

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unduly influenced Settlor's intent and actions concerning disposition of Settlor's

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estate, to the specific detriment of Petitioner.

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31.

Gloria has never disclosed to Connor the fact or amount of any

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payments made to her at any time by any other member of Connor's family or

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directly by the Trust following the divorce.

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32.

On information and belief, Gloria has never disclosed to the court of

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proper jurisdiction the fact or amount of any payments made to her at any time

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by any other member of Connor's family or directly by the Trust following the

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divorce when inducement for that payment was tied to money allegedly owed to

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Gloria by Connor pursuant to the divorce decree.

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33.

On information and belief, performance of fiduciary duties by Settlor's

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fiduciaries was impaired by statements made by and/or actions taken by Gloria

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or persons acting in concert with Gloria, to the specific detriment of Petitioner.

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34.

Settlor was, at all times relevant to this Petition, impaired in her

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judgment and ability to care for herself by the effects of long-term alcohol abuse

26

known to Gloria Cheng, whether or not such abuse was formally acknowledged

27

upon her admission to the extended-care facility and whether or not her actual

28

consumption of alcohol had ceased or otherwise diminished.

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

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35.

The remaining beneficiaries of the Trust, and indirectly Gloria Cheng

and other unknown third parties, would unduly profit from the purported

Amendment if it were given effect, in that the gifts the purported Amendment

provides for are wholly disproportionate to the gifts otherwise left to them under

Settlor's estate planning documents excluding the purported Amendment.

 
 

THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION

 

(Invalidity of Trust Amendment for Lack of Testamentary Capacity)

 

36.

Petitioner realleges Paragraphs 1 through 35, above, as though set

forth herein in full.

 

37.

Petitioner is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that at the

time the Settlor executed the purported Amendment, she lacked the requisite

testamentary capacity to amend the trust or its dispositive provisions, in that she

did not have sufficient mental capacity to understand the nature of the

testamentary act, understand and recollect the nature and situation of her

property, and remember or understand her relations to her living relatives and

those whose interests would be affected by the terms of the Amendment.

 

38.

At the time the Settlor executed the purported Amendment, she was

suffering from the effects of advanced aging, was relatively frail, and was

impaired in judgment, recall, communication, and will due to long-term alcohol

abuse.

39.

Petitioner is further informed and believes that at the time the Settlor

executed the purported Amendment, she suffered from a chemical dependency

disorder with symptomology that caused Settlor to dispose of her property in a

way which she would not otherwise have done absent that dependency and its

effects.

 

FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION

 

(Purported Trustee's Breach of Fiduciary Duty)

 

40.

Petitioner realleges

Paragraphs

1 through 39,

above,

as

though

set

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

 

PAOE7

forth herein in full.

 
 

41.

On information and belief, Steven was aware of Settlor's desire to void

the purported Amendment, or otherwise substantively divide her estate to

provide for Connor, not less than thirty (30) days prior to Settlor's death.

 

42.

On information and belief, Steven refused to or otherwise failed to take

any steps to void the purported Amendment or otherwise conform Settlor's estate

plan to her stated wishes.

 
 

43.

On information and belief, Steven's failure to act was induced by the

prospect that so acting would substantially reduce his own expectance of

inheritance, despite his duty to act in the interest only of the Settlor and Trust

and not of himself.

 
 

44.

Steven therefore breached his fiduciary duty to Settlor and to the other

beneficiaries.

NOTICE

 

The names, ages and residence addresses of the persons entitled to notice of

this Petition, so far as are known to Petitioner, are listed in the attached Exhibit

B.

 

WHEREFORE, Petitioner requests judgment as follows:

 

A.

An order requiring the Trustee to immediately turn over to Petitioner (i)

clear, complete, and correct copies of all Trust documents and documents related

to the formation and administration of the Trust; and (ii) a complete accounting

from inception to date of and concerning the Trust;

 
 

B. An order invalidating the purported Trust Amendment on the grounds

that the Settlor lacked testamentary capacity when she executed that purported

Amendment;

 

An order removing Steven Cochran as Trustee of the Trust;

An award and disgorgement from each Beneficiary who has taken from

TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14

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27 C.

28 D.

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the Trust to the Trust, regardless of time of such taking; E. An order declaring
the Trust to the Trust, regardless of time of such taking;
E.
An order declaring that Kevin Cochran, as substitute Trustee, holds all
of the following as a constructive trustee for the Trust and/ or Petitioner: (i) all of
the Settlor's tangible personal property in his possession, including all such
property located at the Settlor's residence; and (ii) the proceeds of any of the
Settlor's personal effects sold or otherwise disposed of by any beneficiary and any
assets traceable to those proceeds; and (iii) any distributions of any Trust assets
previously made to any beneficiary and any assets traceable to any such
distributions;
F.
Petitioner's costs of suit herein, including his reasonable attorney's
fees; and
G.
Any other relief that the Court considers just and proper.
ichael, Esq.
torney for the Petitioner, Connor Cochran
VERIFICATION
I, Connor Cochran, am the Petitioner in the above-entitled proceeding. I
have read the foregoing petition and know the contents thereof. The same is true
of my own knowledge, except as to those matters which are therein stated on
information and belief, and as to those matters, I believe it to be true.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California
that the foregoing is true and correct.
---
Connor Cochran
TRUST CONTEST FOR CONNOR FROM CHARLIE 2-12-14
PAGE9

1

Law Offices of John H. Carmichael John H. Carmichael, Esq. (196416)

 

2

13700 Cimarron Avenue Gardena, California 90249

3

Telephone: 310.345.2525

Email:

jhc/aw@9mail·com

4

Attorney for Claimant Connor Cochran

 

5

 

6

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SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

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FOR THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE

9

 

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In the Matter of:

Case. No.

11

Estate of Doris COCHRAN,

Hon.

12

 

Decedant.

Declaration of Connor Cochran Concerning Status of Alleged Trust

13

 

Hearing:

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I, an adult over eighteen years of age, hereby state and declare that the

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following statements are true and correct to the best of my knowledge, and that I

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would be prepared to so testify under oath:

 

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1.

I am the child by birth of Doris Cochran, the decedant in this matter.

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2.

I have neither committed any act nor failed to perform any duty such

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that I would be barred from participation in my mother's estate or affairs.

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3.

I last visited my mother on or about August 24, 2013 while on business

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travel to the Los Angeles area. At that time, she verbally expressed to me her

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intention that I would share in her estate.

 

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4. My mother died on or about September 23, 2013.

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5. I have been informed by my older brother Steven Cochran, purportedly

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acting as trustee in accordance with a purported trust instrument of which I was

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never informed and have never received a copy, that I had been entirely cut out

E211CONTEST-EXHA

PAGE 1

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of my mother's estate and affairs. See Steven Cochran E-mail of October 16,

2

2013 (Exh. A).

3

6.

On October 16, 2013, I requested that Steven Cochran provide me with

4

a copy of the purported trust instrument. See Connor Cochran E-mail of October

5

16, 2013 (Exh. B). I specifically provided the correct mailing address to Steven

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Cochran to enable him to send that copy.

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7.

As of the date of this declaration, neither Steven Cochran nor any other

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person has provided me with a copy of the purported trust instrument for my

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examination or for any other purpose.

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8.

On information and belief, after several telephone discussions with my

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younger brother Kevin Cochran during the past several months, the 1999

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changes made to the purported joint 1997 trust instrument- which I also have

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never had an opportunity to examine - were at the instigation, in whole or in

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part, of my ex-wife Gloria Cheng.

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9. At all relevant times, both my mother and father were over the age of

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65.

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10. On information and belief, Steven Cochran moved from the State of

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California and changed his residence to the State of Colorado during the past two

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years.

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11.

On information and belief, after several telephone discussions with my

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younger brother Kevin Cochran in the past several months, at least some

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distribution from the purported trust took place in favor of either or both of

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Steven and Kevin Cochran during my mother's lifetime. I learned of such

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distribution only after my mother's death.

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12.

On information and belief, based upon both several telephone

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discussions with Kevin Cochran in the past several months and the implications

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in Steven Cochran's e-mail of October 16, 2013 (Exh. A), further distribution

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from the purported trust has taken place since September 23, 2013.

E211CONTEST-EXHA

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13. On information and belief, based upon both several telephone

discussions with Kevin Cochran during the past several months and the

implications in Steven Cochran's e-mail of October 16, 2013 (Exh. A), I

reasonably anticipate that Steven Cochran will make further distributions from

the purported trust acting as purported trustee in the near future, unless this

Court orders otherwise.

14. In light of the above, I conclude that there is a substantial risk that the

estate of Doris Cochran has been or will be dissipated or otherwise removed from

the State of California via one or more self-interested unnatural distributions,

without proper notice and opportunity for me to be heard, unless this Court

orders otherwise.

Attested and declared this 11th day of February, 2014.

orders otherwise. Attested and declared this 11th day of February, 2014. Connor Cochran E211CONTEST-EXHA P A

Connor Cochran

E211CONTEST-EXHA

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1

INDEX OF EXHIBITS

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A

E-mail from Steven Cochran to Connor Cochran (October 16, 2013)

 

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B

E-mail from Connor Cochran to Steven Cochran (October 16, 2013)

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E2!!CONTEST-EXHA

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--~ --~-----------------

Exhibit A

E-mail from Steven Cochran to Connor Cochran (October 16, 2013)

From: Steve Cochran [mailto:cochrans2812@yahoo.com] Sent: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 2:41PM To: connorfc@earthlink.net Subject: Doris M. Cochran Trust

Doris Cochran passed at approximately 6:40 A.M. on Monday, September 23rd. I was at her bedside. A constant vigil had been kept from 8:30P.M. the previous Tuesday. She had her health up until the previous Monday, September 16th. Her mind was clear and alert right up to the end. It has been only 23 days since her death.

The "Estate" of Doris M. Cochran was held in a Living Trust. Retaining a local attorney, Stan and Doris Cochran established the Trust on June 3rd, 1997. Again, retaining a local attorney, Doris Cochran amended the Trust - changing the provisions for "Distribution of Income and Principal" - on November 29th, 1999. In amending the Trust, Doris Cochran formalized her decision to disinherit and omit any provision in the Trust for Connor Freff Cochran (formerly known as Jeffery Scott Cochran). It was her decision that this action be kept from her son. It was her instructions that this information not be shared beyond the immediate 3 family members.

As Trustee, I have retained a Probate Attorney to advise, and if necessary represent me, as I fulfill my obligations as defined by the provisions of the Trust. The documents associated with the Estate have all been reviewed and found to be complete and in order. The law is clear. With the documents complete and in order, I have been advised that I can proceed.

Doris Cochran was of clear and sound mind right up to the end. She was precise in how she wanted this affair handled - specific in her final instructions.

If you need to communicate with someone, it should be with me. Talking with anyone else is a waste of your time - an unnecessary inconvenience to whomever you've reached out to. I'm the only one that can do anything here - if you feel the need to talk, I'm the guy you need to be talking to.

Steve Cochran

970-388-9239

cochrans2812@yahoo.com

··--········--------------------------

Exhibit B

E-mail from Connor Cochran to Steven Cochran (October 16, 2013)

From: Connor Cochran [mailto:connorfc@earthlink.net] Sent: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 7:25PM To: 'Steve Cochran' Cc: 'Kevin Cochran'; johncee@dslextreme.com Subject: RE: Doris M. Cochran Trust

Dear Steve:

Please immediately identify your counsel of record, so my attorneys can contact him. Failure to immediately identify your counsel will result in needless further legal proceedings.

In addition, I am putting you on notice not to distribute any assets from any purported Trust to yourself, to Kevin, or anyone else until my attorney can examine said purported Trust. Doing so would violate the California probate code in many ways.

A minor correction: the name my mother and father gave me at birth was "Jeffrey," not

"Jeffery."

I will stop talking with other people once I have confirmed your current mailing address. If you don't want me bothering anyone or "wasting my time" you can always cough it up via return email, instead of continuing to ignore my repeated requests fur it.

Finally: I do not feel the need to talk, nor do I have any interest in speaking with you. >From this point forward my attorneys will do my talking for me.

Sincerely,

Connor Freff Cochran