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PNC Bank appealed a jury verdict in favor of a special deputy receiver finding PNC liable for negligence and breach of fiduciary duty in violation of its duties as trustee of various preneed trusts created by NPS. The Eighth Circuit held that appellees' claims arose under trust law rather than tort law and appellees were thus entitled only to the damages afforded under trust law; damages to the Missouri trusts after Allegiant's trusteeship or outside of the Missouri trusts were not recoverable from PNC as Allegiant's successor; the trust beneficiaries were NPS, consumers in Missouri, and the funeral homes that were to provide services to those consumers pursuant to the consumers' preneed contract; PNC was not relieved of liability unless Allegiant ensured that Wulf was investing trust assets within the authority of a reasonably prudent trustee; appellees' trust-law claim should have been tried to the court under the general rule; and the court rejected appellees' cross-appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Jo Ann Howard and Associates v. National City Bank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the county court’s denial of Petitioners’ petition for removal of the personal representative of the estate of the decedent pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2454. Petitioners, devisees under the decedent’s will, disagreed with the personal representative’s decision to enter into a purchase agreement for the sale of a farm, arguing that the sale price was not in the best interests of the estate because, according to Petitioners’ appraiser, the value of the land was substantially higher. The county court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the county court did not err in concluding that Petitioners did not show cause for removal of the personal representative of the estate. View "In re Estate of Etmund" on Justia Law

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Absent clear error, a district court's valuation of a decedent's estate will not be reversed on appeal. Plaintiffs Anne Fahey, Timothy Fife and Richard D. Fife appealed a district court judgment in their action seeking cancellation of a quit claim deed from their deceased mother Marianne Fife to their deceased father Richard A. Fife relating to North Dakota minerals. Anne Fahey's aunt Carole Hill informed her about the circumstances surrounding Marianne’s conveyance of her mineral interest. Hill witnessed Richard Fife present a quit claim deed for Marianne to sign, and Richard held Marianne's hand to help her sign her name on the deed. Hill believed Marianne was not competent at the time to sign the deed, and was not informed as to what she was signing. Plaintiffs sued Joanne Fife, individually and as personal representative of Richard Fife's estate, claiming their mother lacked capacity to execute the deed because she was under medication to treat her pain. Plaintiffs also claimed their father exercised undue influence over their mother when she signed the deed. The trial court rescinded the deed but concluded that under North Dakota's intestacy laws in effect at Marianne’s death, the minerals passed to Richard A. Fife. The court concluded Richard A. Fife's surviving spouse Joanne Fife owned the minerals. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Fahey v. Fife" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dissolving the marriage of Plaintiff and Defendant. On appeal, Plaintiff challenged several financial orders entered by the trial court. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in (1) determining that Plaintiff did not contribute to the value of a trust created by Defendant’s father in 1983; (2) declining to find Defendant in contempt; (3) failing to consider the value of a trust created in 2011 as a marital asset; and (4) structuring the award of attorney’s fees in the dissolution action. View "Powell-Ferri v. Ferri" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the trustees of a trust created by Paul John Ferri, Sr. solely for the benefit of his son, Paul John Ferri, Jr. (Ferri), sought a judgment declaring that they were authorized to decant certain assets from the trust and that Nancy Powell-Ferri, Ferri’s former wife, had no right, title, or interest in those assets. The trial court concluded that Plaintiffs were not allowed to decant the trust because Ferri had a vested irrevocable interest in its assets. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) under Massachusetts trust law, Plaintiffs had authority to decant assets from the trust; (2) the trial court erred in granting attorney’s fees to Powell-Ferri; and (3) the trial court did not err in the remaining issues challenged on appeal. View "Ferri v. Powell-Ferri" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the status of a revocable trust that husband’s parents established in 1999. The parties married in 1984 and have two children (now adults); they divorced in 2014. The grantor amended the revocable trust that changed the beneficiary from husband to husband’s son, thereby keeping the trust property out of the marital estate and shielding it from wife’s claims. Wife appealed the family division’s final property division award. In particular, she challenged the trial court’s refusal to enforce a subpoena requiring grantor father to testify about the trust and his capacity to change its beneficiary and argued the family court should have included the trust assets as part of the marital estate. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Collins v. Collins" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded this case involving the ownership of the Touro Synagogue building and associated land and rimonim used in the worship in the Touro Synagogue. Congregation Jeshuat Isreal (CJI) brought a declaratory judgment against Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI), and CSI counterclaimed. The district court concluded that CJI was owner of the rimonim and that CSI was owner of the building and real estate subject to a trust for CJI as representing the practitioners of Judaism in Newport, Rhode Island. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the only reasonable conclusions to be drawn from the parties’ own agreements determining property rights by instruments customarily considered by civil courts are that CSI owns both the rimonim and the real property free of any trust or other obligations to CJI except as lessor to CJI as holdover lessee. View "Congregation Jeshuat Israel v. Congregation Shearith Israel" on Justia Law

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The Respondents were the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina (Disassociated Diocese); the Trustees of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina (Trustees); and thirty-six individual parishes that have aligned themselves with the Disassociated Diocese (Parishes). The Appellants were The Episcopal Church a/k/a The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the diocese that remained affiliated with the TEC (Associated Diocese). This case was an appeal of a circuit court order holding that the Appellants have no legal or equitable interests in certain real and personal property located in South Carolina, and enjoining the Appellants from utilizing certain disputed service marks and names. “Overly simplified,” the issue in this case was whether the Disassociated Diocese, the Trustees, and the Parishes or appellant Associated Diocese and its parishes "owned" the real, personal, and intellectual property that the Appellants alleged was held in trust for the benefit of TEC in 2009. After a lengthy bench trial, and based upon the application of "neutral principles of law," the circuit court found in favor of the Respondents on property and the service mark causes of action. The circuit court order was reversed in part, and affirmed in part, with each South Carolina Supreme Court justice writing separately. Justice Hearn joined Acting Justice Pleicones and Chief Justice Beatty in reversing the trial court as to the twenty-nine parishes that documented their reaffirmation to the National Church. Chief Justice Beatty joined Acting Justice Toal and Justice Kittredge with respect to the remaining seven parishes. Four justices agreed the Dennis Canon created an enforceable trust, but Justice Kittredge disagreed with the majority and would have found the trust was revoked at the time of the schism. Moreover, though Acting Justice Pleicones and Justice Hearn believed ecclesiastical deference was required in this case, both opinions found all thirty-six parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon such that a legally cognizable trust was created in favor of the National Church. View "Protestant Episcopal Church v. Episcopal Church" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the probate court approving, with a modification, the report of a referee for the distribution of the Estate of John W. Gilbert. Judith Gilbert, individually and as personal representative of the estate, appealed, arguing that the probate court erred by appointing a referee and adopting the report of the referee. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for the probate court to conduct an evidentiary hearing as if a referee had never been involved in the matter and for the court to issue a decision detailing the distribution of the estate consistent with the evidence produced at that hearing, holding (1) because the referee failed to conduct a hearing before submitting his report, the probate court’s adoption of any portion of the referee’s report was error; and (2) the involvement of a referee in the matter was misguided. View "In re Estate of John W. Gilbert" on Justia Law

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In several cases consolidated for review, the issue common to all was whether the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services could recover from beneficiaries’ estates an amount equivalent to certain Medicaid benefits paid to, or on behalf of, those beneficiaries during their lifetimes. Pursuant to the Michigan Medicaid estate-recovery program (MMERP), DHHS asserted creditor claims in the amount of those benefits against the estates of four deceased beneficiaries. In each case, the estate prevailed in the probate court and DHHS appealed. The Court of Appeals consolidated the appeals and reversed in part, concluding that DHHS could pursue its claims for amounts paid after MMERP’s July 1, 2011 implementation date, but not for amounts paid between that date and the program’s effective date, July 1, 2010. One estate appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, arguing due process barred DHHS from recovering any amount paid before 2013, when the agency had directly notified the estate’s decedent of MMERP. DHHS applied for leave to appeal in all four cases, arguing that the Court of Appeals had erred in concluding that the agency was not entitled to recover the amounts paid between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011. The Supreme Court concluded DHHS was not barred from pursuing estate recovery for amounts paid after July 1, 2010. View "In re Gorney Estate" on Justia Law