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Two years after the district court denied class certification, the parties settled the individual claims. After settling, the parties jointly asked the court to enter a stipulated judgment dismissing with prejudice the Trusts’ individual claims, and the court did so. In the judgment, the Trusts reserved any right they may have to appeal the district court’s class-certification denial. The Trusts now appealed that denial, contending that the class-certification order merged with the stipulated judgment dismissing their individual claims, resulting in a final, appealable order under 28 U.S.C. 1291. Relying on Microsoft Corp. v. Baker, 137 S. Ct. 1702 (2017), the Tenth Circuit held that it lacked statutory appellate jurisdiction to review the district court’s order denying class certification. "Voluntarily dismissing the Trusts’ individual claims with prejudice after settling them doesn’t convert the class-certification denial—an inherently interlocutory order—into a final decision under 28 U.S.C. 1291." The Court dismissed this appeal. View "Anderson Living Trust v. WPX Energy Production" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that separate damage claims against a deceased trustee for punitive and double damages under Kan. Stat. Ann. 58a-1002 and under the common law relating to a breach of trust and a breach of fiduciary duty may be recovered after the death of a trustee. A Trust and its beneficiaries brought a cause of action for a deceased Trustee’s breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty, seeking punitive damages from the Trustee’s Estate under section 58a-1002(c). On appeal from the judgment of the trial court, the Trust challenged the trial court’s rulings that prevented the jury from considering whether the Trust should receive double or punitive damages against the Trustee’s Estate. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court and court of appeals erred in concluding that Kansas law did not allow consideration of punitive and double damages because of the Trustee’s death. View "Alain Ellis Living Trust v. Harvey D. Ellis Living Trust" on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Riskey, individually and as co-trustee of the Annette Riskey Family Irrevocable Trust dated April 12, 2004 ("Trust"), and other Riskey family members (collectively, "the Riskeys") appealed judgments entered after the district court granted his brother and co-trustee Rodney Riskey's summary judgment motion. Annette Riskey's husband, Gilbert Riskey, died in December 2003. Within months of the death, Rodney brought Annette to attorney David Peterson. A new trust was drafted which allowed Rodney to purchase land, bins and a house owned by Annette [after her death] for the sum of $65,000. The trust was signed by Annette [as settlor] and Rodney [as co-trustee] on April 12th, 2004. Jeffrey was appointed [c]o-trustee but was only sent a signature page, which he signed shortly thereafter. Jeffrey did not know of the purchase option until 2015. All parties agreed the land, bins and house were worth more than $65,000, though no appraisal has been admitted into the record. Annette died in November 2015. Rodney executed a purchase agreement, which Jeffrey as [c]o-trustee, would not sign. In 2004 Annette had also executed a warranty deed transferring the property to the co-trustees, Rodney and Jeffrey, and reserving a life estate. The North Dakota Supreme Court conclude that the facts, when viewed in a light most favorable to the Riskeys, did not support a conclusion that the Trust's purchase option provision was the effect of Rodney's undue influence on their mother. View "Riskey v. Riskey" on Justia Law

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A husband died, naming his niece and nephew as beneficiaries to his Individual Retirement Account, rather than his wife. The wife declaratory judgment action, arguing that the beneficiary designation should be declared void under 14 V.S.A. 321 and that the IRA funds should pass through husband’s estate. The trial court granted summary judgment to defendants, concluding for several reasons that wife was not entitled to relief under section 321. The Vermont Supreme Court agreed with the trial court that section 321 did not apply here because wife took under husband’s will rather than electing her statutory share of his estate. View "Hayes v. Hayes" on Justia Law

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The estate of Ray Wendell Williams appeals a circuit court judgment ordering it to make a monthly payment of $1,000 to Williams's daughter Kimberly Loveless pursuant to a provision in Williams's will directing WTW Enterprises, Inc. ("WTW"), a trucking business operated by Williams before his death, to commence paying Loveless a monthly salary of "no less than $1,000" upon his death. The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed this appeal, finding: a party petitioned the probate court to transfer the administration of an estate to the circuit court; the probate court granted that petition and took action purporting to transfer administration of the estate to the circuit court; and the circuit court thereafter took over administration of the estate without entering an order of its own authorizing the removal. Such a transfer is improper, and the circuit court never properly acquired subject-matter jurisdiction over the administration of Williams's estate. Accordingly, all actions the circuit court purported to take in this case –– including the judgment the estate has appealed concerning the validity of the directive in Williams's will requiring WTW to pay Loveless a $1,000 monthly salary –– were void due to the lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Estate of Ray Wendell Williams v. Kimberly Loveless" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court declining to enforce a no-contest clause of a 1972 Trust against Respondent, a trustee-beneficiary, holding that a trust beneficiary does not forfeit interest in the trust’s assets pursuant to a no-contest clause penalty by breaching her fiduciary duties while acting in her dual capacity as trustee. The district court found that Respondent violated her fiduciary duties as trustee of the 1972 Trust but determined that her acts as trustee did not warrant imposition of the Trust’s no-contest clause to revoke her beneficiary status. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no-contest clauses do not apply to foreclosure beneficiary interests when the beneficiary, acting in a trustee capacity, breaches her fiduciary duty. View "Montoya v. Ahern" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's dismissal of a petition under Probate Code section 17200 to set aside certain amendments and declare effective the 16th amendment to the Maynord 1986 Family Trust. The court held that appellant was a former beneficiary that lacked standing to petition for relief under section 17200, where the plain language of section 17200 demonstrates that only beneficiaries and trustees of the current trust version have standing to petition for review of the internal affairs of that trust. The court also held that the conclusion in Drake v. Pinkham (2013) 217 Cal.App.4th 400, that a living but incompetent settlor was not a bar to a beneficiary's lawsuit did not demonstrate that a former beneficiary challenging the latest version of a trust was entitled to proceed because of their status in the last allegedly valid former trust document. View "Barefoot v. Jennings" on Justia Law

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The Circuit Court transferred to the New Hampshire Supreme Court without ruling on a question of whether RSA 564-B:1-112 (Supp. 2017) (amended 2018), which addressed rules of construction for trusts, incorporated the pretermitted heir statute, RSA 551:10 (2007), as a rule of construction applicable to trusts. The Supreme Court accepted the transfer, and answered the question in the negative. View "In re Teresa E. Craig Living Trust" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved the South Carolina Home Builders Self Insurers Fund (Fund), which was created by the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, Inc. "for the purpose of meeting and fulfilling an employer's obligations and liabilities under the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Act." The dispute arose after the Fund's Board of Trustees announced plans to wind down the Fund and use the Fund's remaining assets to finance a new mutual insurance company. Petitioners, who were members of the Fund, disagreed with that decision and challenged the Board's authority to use the Fund's assets in such a way. The trial court twice dismissed Petitioners' suit, first on the basis that it involved the internal affairs of a trust and therefore should have been filed in probate court, then in a subsequent proceeding, on the basis that the lawsuit was a shareholder derivative action and that the complaint failed to comply with the pleading requirements of Rule 23(b)(1), SCRCP. On appeal, the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of Petitioners' complaint, finding the trial court properly concluded (1) the Fund was not a trust; (2) Petitioners' claims were derivative in nature; and (3) that Petitioners' complaint was properly dismissed as it did not properly allege a pre-suit demand as required by Rule 23(b)(1). The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed and remanded, finding Petitioners satisfied the pleading requirements of Rule 23(b)(1), irrespective of whether the Fund was properly characterized as a trust. View "Patterson v. Witter" on Justia Law

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Following mediation, a trust beneficiary and a trustee signed a document purporting to settle a bitter family litigation and referring future disputes to the mediator for resolution. The beneficiary subsequently denied that she settled and asked the mediator to resolve the issue, but the mediator concluded that the parties had reached a binding settlement. The beneficiary tried to resurrect this issue in the superior court, but the court concluded that the mediator’s decision was within the scope of the authority conferred by the parties. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded the superior court did not err by confirming the mediator’s decision. Furthermore, the court did not err by denying the beneficiary’s petition to review the trustee’s compensation, or by awarding Alaska Civil Rule 82 attorney’s fees to the trustee. View "Lee v. Sheldon" on Justia Law