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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

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Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action against the Teton County Assessor seeking a declaration that the trusts for which it acted as trustee were charitable trusts within the meaning of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 4-10-406(a) and were exempt from taxation under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 39-11-105(xix). The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine made dismissal of the action appropriate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiff failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before filing a complaint in the district court, the district court properly dismissed the complaint; and (2) to the extent Plaintiff may have properly invoked the district court’s jurisdiction the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine warranted dismissal of the action in favor of review through the administrative process. View "Thomas Gilcrease Foundation v. Cavallaro" on Justia Law

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The Alaska Supreme Court disagreed with the probate master and superior court’s underlying conclusion that a paternity determination could not be made in estate proceedings, or that a laches defense could apply in this context. A decedent left a will stating he had no children. But during probate proceedings a man in his early 30s claimed to be the decedent’s son, requested genetic testing on the decedent’s cremated remains, and filed numerous motions in an attempt to share in the decedent’s estate. The man’s mother also filed numerous motions in the proceedings, claiming to be a creditor of the decedent’s estate and seeking recovery of child support from the man’s birth to his 18th birthday. After previously signing orders denying the motions based on the probate master’s reasoning that paternity determinations may not be made in estate proceedings, the superior court ultimately ruled that: (1) laches barred the man’s and his mother’s efforts to establish paternity; and (2) because paternity had not been established, neither the man nor his mother had standing to pursue a claim in the estate proceedings. Despite disagreeing with these findings, the Supreme Court nonetheless affirmed the superior court’s decision with respect to the man’s mother on the alternative ground that her putative creditor claim: the only basis by which she could be an interested person in the estate proceedings unquestionably was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. But if the man proved to be the decedent’s son he had, at a minimum, certain statutory rights that: (1) may be established through declaratory judgment in the probate proceedings; and (2) might not be barred by a statute of limitations. Because the statute of limitations defense to the man’s claim was briefed only in limited fashion in the superior court and was not ruled on by that court, and because the issue has not been adequately briefed to the Supreme Court, the Court asked for supplemental briefing be filed to assist it in resolving whether a statute of limitations may bar the man’s recovery from the estate. View "Estate of Seward" on Justia Law

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Fred, age 86, and his 79-year-old wife, Martha, filed suit under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act. In the 1990s, before the defendants were involved, the couple purchased life insurance policies, which were held by a revocable living trust for their children. The Trust was self-sustaining, with no need for additional cash for ongoing premium costs. In 2013, Fred was suffering from cognitive decline; Martha had Alzheimer’s disease. Defendants allegedly carried out a scheme that involved arranging the surrender of one policy and the replacement of the other with a policy providing limited coverage, at massively increased cost. The premiums for the new coverage were $800,000, forcing the couple to feed cash into the Trust. Defendants argued that the Children’s Trust owned the policies, that the money was paid voluntarily for the benefit of their children, and that the Trust does not have an Elder Abuse Act claim “because [it] is not 65 years old.” The court of appeals reversed dismissal. Regardless of what specific damages may be available to the couple, as distinguished from the Trust, it can be fairly inferred that the couple suffered some damages unique to themselves. The defendants “knew or should have known” of the “likely” harm their scheme would have on the couple. View "Mahan v. Charles W. Chan Insurance Agency" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that it need not decide whether the presence of the same person, in two different capacities, on both sides of a case caption, defeats diversity because the challenged judgment here rests on a misapprehension as to the particular irrevocable trusts named as plaintiffs. In this case, the four party trusts have no distinct juridical identity allowing them to sue or be sued in their own names; each was a traditional trust, establishing a mere fiduciary relationship and, as such, incapable of suing or being sued in its own name; because the party trusts can only sue or be sued in the names of their trustees, pleadings in the names of the trusts themselves do not require that these parties' citizenship, for purposes of diversity, be determined by reference to all their members; rather, these traditional trusts' citizenship was that of their respective trustees; because trustee Roland Loubier's Canadian citizenship is only suggested, not demonstrated, in the record, further inquiry was required on remand conclusively to determine diversity. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Raymond Loubier Irrevocable Trust v. Loubier" on Justia Law