Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court

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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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The Supreme Court affirmed the county court’s entry of summary judgment declaring that the proceeds of the Estate of Mark Anthony Helms be distributed pursuant to a prior federal court judgment applying North Carolina law, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. Decades after Helms died in a terrorist bombing, the estate obtained a wrongful death judgment in federal court determining that Helms had been domiciled in North Carolina and not Nebraska and that damages would be distributed according to North Carolina law. Later the successor personal representative of the Estate filed a probate case in the county court for Butler County a petition to authorize distribution of the judgment proceeds under Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-810, a Nebraska wrongful death statute. The county court ordered distribution pursuant to the federal court judgment applying North Carolina law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because of the binding effect of the federal court judgment, the Nebraska wrongful death statute did not apply. View "In re Estate of Helms" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court construing the will at issue in this case and granting the decedent’s estate’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the county court had jurisdictional priority over the district court in construing the will in this matter. The decedent’s daughter sought a declaration of her rights under the decedent’s will as an alleged devisee. The estate asserted that the decedent disinherited the daughter in the will. The district court granted summary judgment for the estate, concluding that, under the clear and unambiguous terms of the will, Daughter was expressly disinherited by the will’s provisions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the county court and the district court had exercisable concurrent jurisdiction over the construction of this will; (2) the county court, as the first court to acquire jurisdiction, retained it to the exclusion of the district court; and (3) because the county court neither transferred the case nor otherwise relinquished its jurisdictional priority, the district court improperly impinged on the county court’s jurisdictional priority in construing the will. View "Brinkman v. Brinkman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Keller Williams Realty in this lawsuit against Donna Rook, successor personal representative of the estate of Donald Lienemann (the Estate), holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Keller and in denying summary judgment in favor of the Estate. In granting summary judgment for Keller, the district court found that Keller had established that the Estate breached a contract involving the sale of real property. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court had jurisdiction to decide the validity of Keller’s claim; and (2) the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Keller. The Court remanded the cause to the district court with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of the Estate. View "Eagle Partners, LLC v. Rook" on Justia Law

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In this challenge related to a decedent’s estate the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the county court determining that the evidence was insufficient to prove damages for the conversion of estate property allegedly caused by the personal representative who was removed for breaches of fiduciary duties. On appeal, the designees of the decedent’s estate argued that the county court erred by not (1) awarding damages for the former personal representative’s conversion, damage, or loss of property; (2) awarding fees to the successor personal representative personally against the former representative by way of surcharge; (3) awarding attorney fees and costs personally against the former representative by way of surcharge; (4) imposing sanctions against the former representative or his attorney for the destruction of a deed of conveyance of real estate; and (5) receiving into evidence a certain exhibit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the proceedings below. View "In re Estate of Graham" on Justia Law

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In this matter concerning the administration of the Henry B. Wilson, Jr., Revocable Trust Dated June 27, 2002 the Court of Appeals erred in interpreting the order of the county court to have removed the cotrustees of the subtrust of Lou Ann Goding, Henry’s daughter. Lou Ann filed this suit alleging mismanagement of Henry’s trust. The county court, after a trial, removed the cotrustees of Henry’s trust. The Court of Appeals concluded that there was no error in need of correction, interpreting the county court’s order to have removed the cotrustees of Lou Ann’s subtrust. Although the Supreme Court’s reasoning differed from that of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Court of Appeals erred in interpreting the county court’s order to have removed the cotrustees of the subtrusts; but (2) because the Court of Appeals did not remove the cotrustees of Lou Ann’s subtrust de novo, instead finding no error in need of correction, this Court’s ultimate conclusion that the county court did not err is the same. View "In re Henry B. Wilson, Jr., Revocable Trust" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing the claims brought by a trust’s grantors and beneficiaries for constructive trusts against other parties who had dealt with the trustee, holding that the claims failed either for lack of proof or because of Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-38,101. The district court dismissed the case after finding that the defendants were all entitled to protection under 30-38,101, which protects third parties dealing in good faith with a trustee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the claims for a constructive trust against the defendants in this case. View "Junker v. Carlson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the county court that Plaintiff, personal representative of the estate of Richard A. Hasterlik and an individual beneficiary, did not qualify for preferential inheritance tax treatment under Neb. Rev. Stat. 77-2004 on the ground that Plaintiff failed to prove that the decedent stood in the acknowledged relation of a parent to her. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the county court erred in finding that the evidence did not establish that Plaintiff was a person to whom the deceased, for more than ten years prior to his death, stood in the acknowledged relation of a parent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the county court’s factual determination was not clearly wrong. View "In re Estate of Hasterlik" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the county court’s order appointing a special administrator in this will contest, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. Two siblings filed a petition in the county court contesting the validity of Marcia G. Abbott-Ochsner’s will presented for informal probate by their brother, who had been appointed as the personal representative of the estate. The personal representative transferred the will contest to the district court. Afterward, the county court granted the siblings’ request to appoint a special administrator for the estate pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2425 pending resolution of the district court proceedings. The brother appealed, arguing that the county court lacked jurisdiction to appoint a special administrator because the case had been transferred to the district court. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the county court’s order did not affect with finality Appellant’s substantial rights, and therefore, the order appealed from was not a final order. View "In re Estate of Abbott-Ochsner" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether a lease clause requiring a remainderman that leased real estate from a life tenant for one year ending on October 31, 2015 to pay unspecified real estate taxes made her liable for 2015 taxes that became due and payable on December 31. The life tenant died in August. The county court determined that the lease agreements controlled the lessor’s and lessee’s respective obligations to pay taxes, found the leases to be ambiguous, and ordered the life tenant’s Estate to reimburse the remaindermen. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that, because the Estate did not own the property on December 31, 2015, and the leases did not obligate the decedent to pay taxes that had not yet become due, the county court erred in ordering the estate to reimburse the remaindermen for the real estate taxes they paid. View "In re Estate of Karmazin" on Justia Law