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The district court correctly construed the petitioner’s petition as an attempt to modify a final estate order, making his petition untimely. Twenty-two years after the estate of Gordon Warren Womack (the Decedent) was settled, his son, Gordon Douglas Womack (Mr. Womack), filed a petition to reopen the estate. Specifically, Mr. Womack sought to interpret a provision in the Decedent’s will that left a life estate in oil, gas, and mineral properties to his children, with the remainder to his grandchildren. Mr. Womack argued that the provision had not been construed in past orders of the district court regarding the Decedent’s estate and, accordingly, was not barred by the statute of limitations. The district court denied the petition. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the petition was an untimely petition to interpret a will that had already been construed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the petition, as an attempt to reconstrue the Decedent’s will and modify the district court’s order, was severely untimely. View "In re Estate of Womack" on Justia Law

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Mark Robert Engel and Daniel Michael Engel appealed a probate court’s order disqualifying them as co-executors of their mother's estate and appointing a third party to administer the estate. Some of their siblings alleged Mark and Michael had been selling some of their mothers’ personal property without express permission to do so. Mark and Daniel argued the probate court stated that it was disqualifying them because the heirs, which included them, did not get along and for "efficiency of administration," which they claimed were not proper grounds for disqualifying them from serving as co-executors. The Alabama Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed the probate court. View "Engel v. Amonett" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the validity of instruments executed by Beverly Gelber two months before she died. The documents purported to convey Beverly’s home and personal property to her daughter, Meryl Glock. Lawrence Gelber and Darlene Fleischmann, Beverly’s children and the executors of her estate, filed this lawsuit asserting that Meryl wrongfully induced Beverly to execute a deed of gift and bill of sale through undue influence and fraud and that the bill of sale, which Beverly executed in her individual capacity, was of no effect because Beverly’s personal property was held in trust. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court and remanded this case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying the executors’ motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of title and possession of Beverly’s personal property, in excluding records of real estate tax assessments on Beverly’s home, and in granting the motion to strike the executors’ evidence on the civil conspiracy claims; and (2) erred in excluding from evidence declarations made by Beverly disavowing the property transfers and in granting the motion to strike the executors’ evidence on their claims for undue influence and promissory fraud. View "Gelber v. Glock" on Justia Law

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In this probate action, the district court erred by refusing to grant Appellants’ Wyo. R. Civ. P. 40.1 motion for peremptory disqualification of the assigned judge. Appellants, the surviving children of Robert Meeker, contested Meeker’s will, which left the bulk of his estate to Appellee. Appellants filed a petition to set aside the probate of the will and also filed a motion for change of judge under the peremptory disqualification provision in rule 40.1. The judge assigned to the probate had presided over an earlier, related guardianship/conservatorship action. The district court denied the motion for peremptory disqualification as untimely and granted summary judgment to Appellee on the will contest. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Appellants timely filed their motion to peremptorily disqualify the assigned judge when they filed it on the same day they filed their will contest, and therefore, the district court erred when it denied Appellants’ motion for peremptory disqualification; and (2) accordingly, the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellee was void. View "Gaston v. Wagner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, conservator and guardian for his son Vincent Jones, and Plaintiff’s counsel (Attorney) appealed from two orders issued by the probate court that (1) dissolved and replaced a supplemental needs trust that had been created for Vincent’s estate, and (2) directed the Attorney, who created the original trust, to disgorge legal fees paid to her by Vincent and conditionally to pay additional amounts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the probate court’s order creating a new supplemental needs trust for Vincent was not void for lack of statutory authority; and (2) the payment order against the Attorney deprived the Attorney of due process. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Jones" on Justia Law

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This action concerned a piece of real property located in Calhoun County, Alabama. Lynda Newman, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Oscar Newman, deceased, appealed the summary judgment entered in favor of Michael and Rhonda Howard. The Howards owned the property in 2003 and in April 2003 mortgaged the property to secure a note. In 2007, the Howards conveyed the property by general warranty deed to Lynda and Oscar Newman; Oscar, Lynda's husband, subsequently died. It was undisputed that, unbeknownst to the Newmans, the 2003 mortgage was not satisfied by the Howards before the conveyance and remained an encumbrance on the property. The Newmans and the Howards were involved in litigation concerning numerous claims against one another, as well as others, involving deeds, financing agreements, mortgages, and contracts between the various parties concerning several pieces of real property, including the property at issue in this case. Before a final judgment was reached in that litigation, in December 2014 the parties dismissed the lawsuit and entered into a "settlement agreement and mutual release agreement." Also in December 2014, shortly after Lynda signed the agreement, she attempted to sell the property at issue here. During the process of closing on the sale of the property, Lynda's attorney conducted a title search of the property and discovered that the property was encumbered by the 2003 mortgage. Lynda requested that the Howards satisfy the mortgage pursuant to the terms of the May 16, 2007, warranty deed. The Howards refused. Following a hearing, the circuit court granted the Howards' summary-judgment motion on the sole basis that Lynda had released any claims she may have had against the Howards. Lynda appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed, finding Lynda timely objected to the Howards' reliance on the affirmative defense of settlement and release in their summary-judgment motion and equally clear that an amendment to specially plead that affirmative defense was not made by the Howards. The circuit court erred in granting the Howards' summary-judgment motion based on an unpleaded affirmative defense of release. View "Newman v. Howard" on Justia Law

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Christopher Haig and Myrna Murdoch, two beneficiaries of a testamentary trust created under the will of Samuel Damon, objected to the probate court’s approval of the trust’s accounts from 1999 to 2003. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed the probate court’s judgment. Christopher and Myrna separately applied for a writ of certiorari asserting that their due process rights were violated when they were not granted access to documents disclosed to the court-appointed master by the trustees of the trust, which prevented them from making informed objections to the master’s reports regarding the trusts’ accounts during the relevant time period. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ICA erred in affirming the probate court’s approval and adoption of the master’s report without first granting the beneficiaries’ requests to access trust administration documents, in violation of the requirements of Haw. Rev. Stat. 560:7-303. View "In re Trust Created Under the Will of Samuel M. Damon" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the administration of two irrevocable trusts (together, the trusts) established by Richard and Rachel Ishida. The trusts named as beneficiaries the Ishidas’ daughters Jeri Wilson and Juney Ishida and their granddaughter Kaki Wilson, but the trusts expressly excluded the Ishidas’ third daughter, Deenie Kimora. Six years after they created the trusts the Ishidas requested rescission of both trusts, alleging that they did not intend to make the trusts irrevocable and that Jeri had wrongfully transferred ownership of property from one trust to herself. The probate court ordered the property transferred by Jeri returned to the trust but declined to rescind or reform the trusts. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the probate court did not err in denying the Ishidas’ requested relief because the matter was within the court’s equitable discretion; and (2) the ICA properly found that the probate court was not required to accept at face value the Ishidas’ petitions, which were verified pursuant to Hawai’i Probate Rules Rule 5(a). View "In re Ishida-Waiakamilo Legacy Trust" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Peter Turcic Sr. died intestate. Peter was survived by his daughter, Patricia Turcic, and his son, Peter Turcic Jr. Patricia was appointed as personal representative of Peter Sr.’s estate. Thereafter, the probate court appointed Melvin and Ronald Christie, Patricia’s uncle and cousin, conservators of Peter Jr. The Christies then requested removal of Patricia as personal representative of the estate. The probate court removed Patricia as representative and appointed attorney J. Michael Talbot as representative of Peter Sr.’s estate. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed because Patricia did not provide a transcript for review and did not file a Me. R. Civ. P. 52 motion for specific factual findings. View "In re Estate of Peter A. Turcic Sr." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Nancy Brenner, individually and in her representative capacity as representative of the estate of Dale Brenner, and Zach Brenner, individually, appealed judgments entered in favor of defendants Universal Health Services of Rancho Springs, Inc., doing business as Southwest Healthcare System - Inland Valley Medical Center (UHS) and Dr. Young H. Lee, M.D. (Dr. Lee or Lee). Dale Brenner, Nancy's husband and Zach's father, was a patient at the Inland Valley Medical Center for approximately 23 days after he suffered a stroke a few hours after arriving at the emergency department of the hospital. He was eventually transferred to another medical facility, where he later died. Approximately a year after Dale Brenner's death, the plaintiffs sued UHS, Lee, and additional defendants, asserting causes of action for wrongful death based on medical negligence; retaliation; and elder abuse. Lee and UHS moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. On appeal, the plaintiffs contended the trial court erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of UHS and Lee. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgments. View "Brenner v. Universal Health etc." on Justia Law