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Three plaintiffs' cases were consolidated for review; the plaintiffs were elderly women receiving long-term care in nursing homes. In each case, the “institutionalized spouse,” began receiving long-term care at a nursing home at her own expense. One to two months later, each plaintiff’s husband, a “community spouse,” created an irrevocable trust that was solely for his own benefit (a “solely for the benefit of,” or “SBO,” trust). The couples then transferred a majority of their individual and marital property to each SBO trust or its trustee, giving up any claim of title to that property. Distributions or payments from each SBO trust were to be made on an actuarially sound basis and solely to or for the benefit of the community spouse. The distribution schedule required that each trustee distribute the income and resources held by the trust to each community spouse at a rate that would deplete the trust within the community spouse’s expected lifetime. A short time after each SBO trust was formed, each institutionalized spouse applied for Medicaid benefits. The Department of Health and Human Services and its director (collectively, the Department) determined that each institutionalized spouse did not show the requisite financial need because the value of the trust assets put their countable resources above the monetary threshold, and it denied each application. In each case, the plaintiff unsuccessfully contested the Department’s decision in an administrative appeal, but each decision was then reversed on appeal at the circuit court. On appeal in the Court of Appeals, all three cases were consolidated, and the Department’s denial decisions were reinstated. The Michigan Supreme Court concluded that the Court of Appeals erred in its interpretation of the controlling federal statutes, which caused the Court of Appeals to improperly reinstate the Department’s denial decisions. Because the administrative hearing decision in each case suffered from "the same faulty reasoning" used by the Court of Appeals, the Court surmised that legal error may have caused the administrative law judges (ALJs) to forgo a more thorough review of the Medicaid applications at issue or to disregard other avenues of legal analysis. Therefore, rather than order that the Medicaid applications be approved at this time, the Court vacated the hearing decision of the ALJ in each case and remanded these cases to the appropriate administrative tribunal for any additional proceedings necessary to determine the validity of the Department’s decision to deny plaintiffs’ Medicaid applications. View "Hegadorn v. Dept. of Human Services" on Justia Law

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In 2016, petitioners Kenneth T. Riso and Rocco R. Riso, Jr. filed a petition requesting the partition of property in Raymond, New Hampshire that was held by them and their siblings as tenants in common following the death of their mother. The petition also sought relief against respondent Gregory Riso individually for money allegedly converted by respondent from his mother’s estate. Specifically, the petition asserted breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, and fraudulent misrepresentation. These claims stemmed from two checks written in 2012 that respondent drew from his mother’s personal account under authority of a durable power of attorney she executed prior to her death. Respondent answered the lawsuit on August 29, 2016, in which he asserted, among other things, that petitioners’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court ultimately concluded respondent forfeited his right to the statute of limitations defense. After review of the trial court record, the New Hampshire Supreme Court agreed and affirmed denial of respondent's motion for reconsideration. View "Riso v. Riso" on Justia Law

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Jerry Hatten lived with Beverly Toland for 20 years. He died intestate. Hatten had named Toland as the sole beneficiary to his individual retirement account, but did not provide for her to inherit any of his other assets. She sought a larger share of his estate, arguing: (1) Hatten promised to support her financially if she moved to Alaska to live with him; and (2) the court should divide Hatten's property according to their intent because she and Hatten were domestic partners. A special master recommended rejecting Toland's claims, and the superior court adopted the master's recommendation. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed. View "In the Matter of the Estate of Jerry Hatten" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two of the decedent’s children, brought wrongful death and survival actions under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act against a nursing home, alleging that injuries the decedent received when the nursing home’s employee dropped her while transferring her from a bath chair to her bed caused her to suffer injuries that ultimately resulted in her death. The decedent’s granddaughter, rather than plaintiffs, initially filed a request for a medical review panel ostensibly as the representative either of the decedent or her estate. The lower courts found that the granddaughter was a “claimant” within the meaning of the Medical Malpractice Act, namely La. R.S. 40:1231.1(A)(4) and (A)(16), and that her timely request had therefore suspended prescription with regard to the medical malpractice claims of the plaintiffs, even though they had not been named as claimants in the original request for a medical review panel. However, the Louisiana Supreme Court found the lower courts erred in concluding the granddaughter was a proper “claimant” under the language of the Act on the basis that she was a succession representative for the decedent’s estate. Because the initial request for the medical review panel was not made by a proper “claimant,” prescription was not tolled. Accordingly, because defendant’s exception of prescription should have been granted, the trial court’s ruling denying the exception of prescription was reversed. View "Guffey v. Lexington House, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded with directions to modify the superior court's April 22, 2013 attorneys' fees order, affirmed in part and vacated in part the April 26, 2013 judgment of the superior court, and affirmed the court's June 5, 2013 order, holding that the sanctions order was overly broad and the amount of attorneys' fees was excessive. This case began with a dispute over Appellant's aunt's estate after she died. The April 22, 2013 order awarded attorneys' fees to opposing counsel. The April 26, 2013 judgment denied and dismissed Appellant's probate appeal and prohibited Appellant from filing pleadings or other documents in the superior court unless signed by a licensed attorney. The June 5, 2013 order denied Appellant's motions to vacate that were filed pursuant to either Rule 59 or Rule 60 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. The Supreme Court held (1) the sanctions order was overly broad in duration, infringing on Appellant's right of access to the courts; (2) a twenty-five percent reduction in the amount of attorneys' fees to be awarded was appropriate; and (3) Appellant's contentions on appeal with respect to her motions to vacate were unavailing. View "In re Estate of Elizabeth Brown" on Justia Law

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Marquan Stover moved to contest the second codicil to his great aunt Tamora Robinson’s last will and testament, alleging that the second codicil was the product of undue influence by Robinson’s sister Elaine Davis. After a hearing, the Chancery Court found no undue influence and dismissed Stover’s motion to contest. Stover appealed, arguing that the chancellor had erred by not requiring Davis to rebut the presumption of undue influence and that the decision was not supported by substantial, credible evidence. The Court of Appeals issued a plurality decision, affirming the ruling of the chancellor. The Mississippi Supreme Court granted Stover’s petition for a writ of certiorari, and held that the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that a presumption of undue influence, which arises when a confidential relationship is coupled with suspicious circumstances, is rebutted. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the Court of Appeals and of the chancery court, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Stover v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting Respondent's motion to decant half of a wholly charitable trust's property, holding that the district court erred in ordering a course of action that the trust instrument did not permit and the settlors did not intend. The district court's order decanted half the trust's property into a newly created wholly charitable trust with the same purpose as the original charitable trust, to be administered solely by one trustee of the original trust. This action was taken against the objection of co-trustees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by ordering the wholly charitable trust decanted under Nev. Rev. Stat. 163.556 because the terms of the trust instrument required the unanimous consent of all trustees to make a distribution of half of the trust's assets. View "Phung v. Doan" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the probate court's order striking her petition to enforce a no contest clause in a trust under the anti-SLAPP statute, Code of Civil Procedure 425.16, and denying her motion to recover attorney fees. The Court of Appeal agreed with the probate court, and with a recent decision by Division Five of this district, that the anti-SLAPP statute applies to a petition such as plaintiff's seeking to enforce a no contest clause. However, the court held that plaintiff adequately demonstrated a likelihood of success under the second step of the anti-SLAPP procedure. In this case, defendant's judicial defense of the 2007 Amendment to the Trust that she procured through undue influence met the Trust's definition of a contest that triggered the no contest clause. Furthermore, under sections 21310 and 21311, that clause was enforceable against defendant. The court also held that plaintiff provided sufficient evidence that defendant lacked probable cause to defend the 2007 Amendment. The court held that the findings of the probate court concerning defendant's undue influence, which this court affirmed, provided a sufficient basis to conclude that plaintiff has shown a probability of success on her No Contest Petition. Finally, the court held that plaintiff had the contractual right to seek reimbursement of her attorney fees incurred in resisting defendant's appeal of the probate court's ruling invalidating the 2007 Amendment. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Key v. Tyler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the county court accepting the resignation of the trustee for a trust fund created for the perpetual care and maintenance of the Sunset Memorial Park Mausoleum, ordering the trustee to pay trustee fees, attorney fees, costs, and expenses incurred during the prosecution of the petition, and failing to provide for future trust management. The Trustee in this case sought to terminate the perpetual care trust due to circumstances not anticipated at the time the trust was created. Myrtle Hughbanks, Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery Association, Inc., and others opposed terminating the trust. The county court found that the Cemetery Association lacked standing and accepted the resignation of the Trustee. The Cemetery Association and Hughbanks appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the county court's denial of the parties' motions for attorney fees but reversed the order of discharge and associated award of fees, holding (1) in addition to Hughbanks, the Cemetery Association possessed standing; and (2) due to the perpetual nature of a mausoleum trust, the county court erred in granting the Trustee's request for resignation and discharge without the Trustee's having identified and requested the appointment of a successor trustee. View "Bank of the West v. Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery Ass'n" on Justia Law

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This case presented two issues for the Court of Appeals' review: (1) whether the nonmarital biological child of an absentee father who never openly held her out as his own have standing under Code of Civil Procedure section 377.60 to sue for his wrongful death if she failed to obtain a court order declaring paternity during his lifetime?; and (2) if she did not have standing, did section 377.60 violate the state or federal equal protection clauses? Upon the specific facts of this case, the Court concluded the child did not have standing, and there was no equal protection violation. "We cannot imagine the Legislature intended to confer wrongful death standing on a child who had no relationship whatsoever with the decedent to the exclusion of the decedent’s other family members with whom he did have a relationship." View "Stennett v. Miller" on Justia Law