Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Page 1


Court: Convict Will Not Get Inheritance Until Release


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A convicted slayer will have to wait until he gets out of prison before receiving any part of his inheritance, under a decision by the Third District Court of Appeal.

He has been incarcerated under a life sentence since 1994.

The decision, rendered Thursday, affirms a decision by the Sacramento Superior Court to deny a bid by Soledad inmate Lawrence George Hash for a reopening of his late mother’s living trust.

The trust was established by both parents in 1990; the father died in 2002 and the mother died in 2008. Her four sons are the beneficiaries, one of whom, James Hash, was the successor trustee.

He liquidated the assets and placed funds belonging to Lawrence Hash in an interest-bearing Totten trust, to which his incarcerated sibling will not have access until his release.

Brother Explains Action

In a 2009 letter to Lawrence Hash, he explained why it was set up in such a manner:

“That way, you will have a ‘nest egg’ built up for a fresh start in life. I am certain that this is what Mom and Dad had in mind, when they dictated their individual Wills and Testaments.

“I am pretty sure that this is not what you had in mind, but your history of poor judgment when it comes to dealing with attorneys and related concerns, leads the family to believe that this is the best course of action.

“The decision has been made and it is final.”

In a subsequent letter, James Hash specified that the sum in the account, with accrued interest, was $69,597.05. He pledged to make a report every six months.

Acted Within Discretion

The appeals court on Thursday affirmed the denial of the motion to reopen the living trust. Justice Andrea Lynn Hoch said in an unpublished opinion:

“The record shows that James acted within his discretion as trustee by safeguarding funds in order to give his brother a ‘fresh start’ when released from prison. Accordingly, the probate court did not err in denying Lawrence’s motion to reopen the trust.”

She noted that the mother, Shirley Hash, had amended the trust in 2003—after her son went to prison—to provide that he and another son would have their shares placed in lifetime trusts.

Hoch wrote:

“No abuse of discretion appears in James’s establishment of a Totten trust for Lawrence’s benefit or in refusing to disclose to Lawrence where the Totten trust was held.  James’s actions demonstrate the same concerns for Lawrence’s ability to handle his inheritance as indicated by Shirley’s instruction that the funds be held for Lawrence in a lifetime trust.  Accordingly, the probate court properly denied Lawrence’s motion to compel James to close the Totten trust and reopen Shirley’s testamentary trust.”

The case is Hash v. Hash, C068869.

Federal Litigation

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2005 dismissed an action brought by Lawrence Hash under 42 USC Sec. 1983, a federal civil rights statute, against the California Department of Corrections. His complaint alleged that a guard, out of animosity, seized his personal property from his cell.

The court said:

“Neither the negligent nor intentional deprivation of property states a due process claim under §1983 if the deprivation was random and unauthorized.”

In 2009, he filed a 90-page complaint in the District Court, alleging violations of his civil rights at three facilities at which he has been confined. There was a dismissal with leave to amend.

The first amended complaint—which the court found to state cognizable causes of action—was 122-pages. Among the allegations are indifference to his safety and medical needs.

That action remains pending.

On June 6, Hash filed a new action complaining of prison conditions.


Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company