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California woman loses appeal in probate case

A San Francisco woman whose father founded apparel companies The North Face and Esprit has lost her latest battle to gain some of the money from his estate.

A California probate court already had ruled that her father's estate plan would stand, and the state Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles recently rejected her attempt to have the decision overturned.

The woman's father was a businessman but also a conservationist, an outdoorsman and a philanthropist. He passed away in December 2015 from hypothermia as a result of a kayaking accident in Chile.

The daughter is challenging her father's right to leave his estate to his second wife, as well as to foundations the couple launched in Chile and Argentina. Their goal was to keep millions of acres of open space in those countries in their natural states.

The woman, who is 51, based her challenge on Chilean law instead of California law. She has contended that the laws of Chile, which don't allow children to be disinherited in estates, should apply in this case.

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal disagreed, however. The panel wrote, in part: "We are hard-pressed to imagine a reason that, as a matter of public policy, Chile would be concerned about [the daughter's] inheritance or lack thereof, as she is neither a citizen or a resident of Chile."

The woman made no public comment after the latest verdict. She said, however, when she filed her case that her father leaving his children out of the will was "definitely an insult," adding, "He clearly had no trust of us and no respect."

This case illustrates why it's important for parents and their adult children to have conversations at the time an estate plan is created. The parents should explain why the children have been left out so that their wishes can be fulfilled after their death and not be held up in court.

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