Justia Trusts & Estates Opinion Summaries

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Donald Croom Beatty, Jr., appealed a circuit court judgment dismissing an action involving the estate of his mother, Mary Alice Gatlin Beatty. The Alabama Supreme Court determined Donald's notice of appeal was untimely filed; therefore it did not invoke the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to consider the issues he raised on appeal. Accordingly, the Court dismissed his appeal. View "Beatty v. Carmichael" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the beneficiary of a spendthrift trust created by his father, appealed the probate court's order directing the trustee to pay a portion of defendant's 2018 principal disbursement to four judgment creditors in partial satisfaction of their money judgment. The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that a judgment creditor may file a petition under Probate Code section 15301(b) before a debtor/trust beneficiary's trust distribution is "due and payable." The court also held that the probate court did not abuse its discretion by ordering the trustee to delay the payment of defendant's 2018 principal disbursement until after it issued its final ruling on the creditors' petitions. Finally, the court held that defendant's other arguments were unavailing, and because the trust was not a support trust, the personal receipt clause did not shield defendant from creditor claims. View "Blech v. Blech" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court, on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, resolving disputed questions of material fact concerning the propriety of Petitioner's proposed decanting of trust property, holding that the court properly concluded that Petitioner had the general authority to decant the trust property but erred in resolving disputed factual issues concerning the appropriateness of the proposed decanting. Petitioner, as trustee of a trust, filed a petition for instructions asking the district court to confirm its general authority to decant trust property under Wyoming law and the trust agreements and further sought approval of its proposal to decant the trust's property into two separate trusts. The district court granted Petitioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that decanting was permissible. The court, however, also resolved disputed questions of material fact concerning the propriety of Petitioner's proposed decanting. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court's order went beyond the discrete legal question of whether Petitioner had the general authority to decant trust property. View "Evertson v. Evertson Fiduciary Management Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Appellant's motion to transfer venue to Flathead County, holding that the venue provisions of the Montana Uniform Trust Code (MUTC), Mont. Code Ann. 72-38-205(1), controlled in this case and that the district court did not err when it denied Appellant's motion to transfer venue. Appellant was appointed as the successor trustee to the David William Betts Trust. The trustor's children, who were remainder beneficiaries, decided to remove Appellant and appoint a successor trustee and filed a petition in Missoula County requesting that the court enforce the appointment of a nonprofit entity located in Missoula. Appellant agreed to step down as trustee. Thereafter, the Trust filed a separate action in Missoula County alleging, among other things, that Appellant breached his fiduciary duty and his duty as trustee. Appellant filed a motion for change of venue to Flathead County, but the district court denied the motion. Appellant appealed, arguing that the district court erred by applying the venue provisions of the MUTC because the applicable venue provision was Mont. Code Ann. 25-2-122. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, as the more specific statute in this instance, the MUTC venue provision controlled. View "Betts v. Gunlikson" on Justia Law

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Intervenors, financial institutions that held junior notes issued by trust defendant Soloso, appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, the senior noteholder of Lansuppe. Intervenors also appealed the district court's denial of their cross-motion for summary judgment and the dismissal of their cross-claims. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in finding that section 47(b) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 does not provide a private right of action. However, the court agreed with the district court that Lansuppe has demonstrated that it is entitled to summary judgment ordering distribution of Soloso's assets according to the terms of the indenture and that Intervenors' cross‐claims failed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order distributing the assets of the trust according to the terms of the trust's governing indenture. View "Oxford University Bank v. Lansuppe Feeder, Inc." on Justia Law

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Robert was admitted to a nursing home multiple times. During his final stay, he fell out of bed, sustained a head injury, and later died. His estate sued in state court, alleging negligence, negligence per se, violations of Kentucky’s Residents’ Rights Act, KRS 216.515(26), corporate negligence, medical negligence, wrongful death, and loss of consortium. The nursing home sought to enforce an arbitration agreement in federal court. The district court held that no valid agreement covering the final visit existed. An Agreement dated January 5, 2015 displays a mark of some kind in the “Signature of Resident” block, but it is difficult to read. Bramer’s estate alleges that this scrawl is a forgery; Robert's widow stated in an affidavit that neither she nor Robert signed that form. On an Agreement dated January 26, 2015, the widow signed in the “Signature of Resident” block. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Agreements are identical, bind successors and assigns, and require arbitration of a wide range of disputes. They purport to remain in effect through discharge and subsequent readmission. Although signing the Agreement was not a condition of admission, it was presented as part of the admissions packet. The estate presented evidence that the staff implied that signing the Agreement was required. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. By requesting a second agreement on January 26, the nursing home effectively abandoned the first agreement. Lacking Robert’s consent, there was no valid agreement to arbitrate. View "GGNSC Louisville Hillcreek v. Estate of Bramer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the district court admitting a testator's will and codicil to probate after the limitation period for petitioning a will for probate had passed, holding that equitable tolling of the statute of limitations was warranted under the unique circumstances in this case. The testator deposited his original will and a codicil with the probate court as permitted by statute. After the testator's death, his heirs tried to locate the will, but the clerk of court informed the heirs that the will was not in the custody of the court. Eventually, the testator's daughter filed an intestate proceeding. After the limitation period for petitioning a will for probate had passed, the clerk of court located the will and codicil. The testator's stepdaughter filed a separate petition to probate the will. The district court consolidated the probate proceedings and admitted the will to probate. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the will in the authorized custody of the district court but not found until after the statute of limitations had expired should be admitted to probate. View "In re Estate of Oroke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the county court construing Joan Jane Barger's will, holding that the court did not err. In this contest between family members over the decedent's will, the Supreme Court held that the county court did not err by (1) considering extrinsic evidence after failing to determine whether the will was ambiguous; (2) finding that Joan's intent was to distribute her property designated as property held by a trust even though the trust had been terminated; (3) determining the trust was terminated prior to Joan's death; and (4) finding that certain children were not prohibited from taking under article V of the will due to an earlier will contest. View "In re Estate of Barger" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over what percentage of shares in a company the three children (Children) of Peter Knop (Father) owned the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court ruling that despite Father's intention to make gifts of certified stock to the children, the gifts were never effectually made under Virginia law and that the children were not entitled to relief under the doctrine of equitable estoppel. The family company in this case owned 1,000 acres of land. The shares in the company were owned by Father and Children. The trial court concluded that although Father stated his intention to make gifts of stock to Children for estate planning purposes, those gifts were never effectually made because they were never delivered to Children in the manner required by law. The trial court further denied Children relief under equitable estoppel principles. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the shares were never delivered to Children, the gifts were not completed; and (2) the record supported the trial court's conclusion that Children were not entitled to relief on their equitable estoppel claim. View "Knop v. Knop" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the decision of the Comptroller of the Treasury assessing estate tax and penalties against a Maryland estate that included the value of a particular type of marital trust created in Michigan, holding that the value of the marital trust was subject to Maryland estate tax and that the tax court properly waived the late-filing penalty. The trust at issue consisted of qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) that was reported on the decedent's federal estate tax return but was omitted from the estate's Maryland estate tax return. The Court of Special Appeals concluded that the Comptroller lacked the authority to tax the trust assets as part of the Maryland estate and that, because no tax was authorized, no penalty could be charged against the estate. The Court of Appeals held (1) upon the death of the decedent's surviving spouse, the QTIP trust assets were deemed to be transferred upon her death, and the transfer of such property at death was subject to the Maryland estate tax; and (2) the tax court properly waived the late-filing penalty because the personal representative sufficiently demonstrated reasonable cause. View "Comptroller v. Taylor" on Justia Law