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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Plaintiff’s request for declaratory relief and prohibiting Defendant from transferring assets of the decedent’s irrevocable living trust into the decedent’s estate. Plaintiff and Defendant were the two surviving children of the decedent. After Defendant was appointed as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking to prevent Defendant from transferring the assets of the irrevocable trust into the decedent’s estate. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant intended to transfer assets from the irrevocable trust to the decedent’s estate by exercising the limited power of appointment in a provision of the irrevocable trust. The district court issued a decision in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s intended exercise of the limited power of appointment contained in the decedent’s irrevocable living trust was invalid. View "Jaffe v. Pournaras" on Justia Law

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The court of appeals erred in ruling that a taxpayer avoided in Iowa inheritance tax through a private postmortem family settlement agreement (FSA). Here, the decedent, before his death, signed a beneficiary form listing the taxpayer as a contingent beneficiary of his brokerage account. That account transferred to the taxpayer upon the decedent's death. The Iowa Department of Revenue (IDOR) determined that the estate owed the inheritance tax on the full account value. The decedent’s grandchildren sued the taxpayer claiming that they were entitled to the brokerage account under the decedent’s will because the decedent lacked the mental capacity to execute an enforceable beneficiary designation for the account. The taxpayer settled the suit by transferring half the account value to the plaintiffs under an FSA. The taxpayer then sought a refund of part of the inheritance tax already paid. The IDOR denied a refund, determining that the taxpayer failed to establish incapacity. The district court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the FSA controlled the tax issue. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court judgment, holding that, without an adjudication of incapacity, the FSA was not binding on the IDOR and could not avoid the inheritance tax. View "Nance v. Iowa Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In this complaint seeking to impeach a will on the grounds of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court sustaining Defendants’ plea in bar on the grounds of claim preclusion, issue preclusion, and judicial estoppel. The circuit court based its decision on three grounds. The Supreme Court rejected each ground, holding that claim preclusion, issue preclusion, and judicial estoppel did not bar Plaintiff’s complaint to impeach the decedent’s will in this case. The court remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "D'Ambrosio v. Wolf" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s claim that Defendant engaged in impermissible self-dealing in her capacity as the decedent’s attorney-in-fact by writing checks from an account Defendant owned jointly with the decedent for the benefit of the decedent and her family. Plaintiff in this case was the personal representative of the decedent, her deceased mother, and Defendant was Plaintiff’s sister. Plaintiff sued Defendant on several grounds, including breach of fiduciary duties. The circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Defendant on that issue, concluding that the power of attorney authorized self-dealing of the kind alleged here and that creation of the joint account did not involve an exercise of Defendant’s powers as attorney-in-fact. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Defendant engaged in impermissible self-dealing with respect to the money withdrawn from the joint account during the decedent’s lifetime; and (2) with respect to the issue of whether Defendant acted in her fiduciary capacity when she was added to the account, the case is remanded to the circuit court to make further determinations on the issue. View "Wyman v. Bruckner" on Justia Law

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In a feud between siblings over their aunt’s estate, the question presented for the Georgia Supreme Court's review was the propriety of the extensive relief granted by the trial court on a motion for an interlocutory injunction. Because most of the relief was not proper interlocutory relief, the Supreme Court vacated the disputed parts of the trial court’s order and remanded the case. View "Barnes v. Channel" on Justia Law

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Shellie G. Spencer III ("Shellie III") appealed a probate court order admitting a copy of his father's will to probate. After reviewing the record under the ore tenus standard of review and applying the prevailing substantive legal principles, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the judgment of the probate court was supported by the evidence. The proponent met his burden of rebutting the presumption that the 2010 will had been revoked and establishing to the reasonable satisfaction of the probate court that the 2010 will had not been revoked. The probate court's notation in its order concerning Shellie III's failure to offer any evidence "in support of the application of [that] evidentiary presumption" did not amount to reversible error. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the probate court's judgment. View "Spencer III v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the county court that a modification of the terms of the trust of Jennie Shire was not authorized by the Nebraska Uniform Trust Code where the beneficiaries did not unanimously consent to the modification and the modification would not adequately protect the interests of the nonconsenting beneficiaries. The trustee of the trust at issue filed a petition for trust proceeding to provide increased disbursements from the trust to the remaining lifetime beneficiary. The county court ruled that the requested modification of the trust was not warranted under Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-3837 and 30-3838. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the beneficiaries did not unanimously consent to modification; (2) modification would not have adequately protected the nonconsenting beneficiaries; and (3) the county court was not presented with the issue of whether the trust could be modified under the common-law doctrine of deviation, and therefore, the doctrine of deviation was not appropriate for consideration on appeal. View "In re Trust of Shire" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court order granting summary judgment in favor of Heritage Bank in this action for forcible entry and detainer against James Gabel, C.J. Land & Cattle, L.P., and MCGFF, LLC after James failed to pay rent on farmland pursuant to a lease agreement. In its order, the district court concluded that Heritage Bank was the trustee of the Charles L. Gabel Revocable Trust, that Defendants did not timely deliver the 2015 crop payment to the trustee, that Defendants had notice they were not in compliance with the terms of the lease, and that the defect was not cured within a reasonable amount of time. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the record supported the district court’s finding that Heritage Bank was the trustee and had standing to bring this action; but (2) genuine issues of material fact remained regarding the other issues raised by Defendants, precluding summary judgment. View "Heritage Bank v. Gabel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part an order of the county court resulting from a trust’s beneficiaries’ suit against Lyle A. Forgey, another beneficiary and trustee. The parties were beneficiaries of the Glenn G. Forgey Revocable Trust. Plaintiffs Marvel Forgey and her three children sought to remove Lyle as trustee, secure administration of the trust, value trust assets, divide those assets into separate trusts for the beneficiaries, and determine liabilities for alleged breaches of Lyle’s fiduciary duties. Bessie Forgey-McCoy and her two children, also beneficiaries, joined as interested parties. The county court valued and distributed trust assets, assessed damages against Lyle for estate tax interest and penalties, and declined to award attorney fees or costs. All parties appealed. The Supreme Court held that the county court (1) erred by not awarding damages for Lyle’s untimely reports and accountings of his failure to collect rents on behalf of the trust; (2) abused its discretion in declining to award attorney fees to Marvel, Bessie, and their children; and (3) otherwise did not err in its findings. View "In re Estate of Glenn G. Forgey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Charlotte A. Wintersteen’s motion to amend her petition for court supervision of a trust to include a claim challenging the validity of the most recent amendment to the trust, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying the motion to amend the original petition as futile. Charlotte, the widow of Lee R. Wintersteen, sought court supervision of the Lee R. Wintersteen Revocable Trust Agreement upon learning that she had been removed as a beneficiary in a subsequent amendment to the trust. The circuit court granted the petition and assumed supervision of the trust. When Charlotte sought to amend her petition, however, the circuit court concluded that the amended petition would be futile because it was time-barred under S.D. Codified Laws 55-4-57(a)(1) where more than one year had passed since the date of Lee’s death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Charlotte’s claim was time-barred; and (2) Charlotte could not take advantage of the relation-back doctrine for her extinguished claim. View "In re Wintersteen Revocable Trust Agreement" on Justia Law