Justia Trusts & Estates Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Nevada Supreme Court
In re Aboud Inter Vivos Trust
At issue in this case was trust property that was transferred from the trust to a limited partnership by consent of the trust beneficiaries. The partnership subsequently transferred the property to a third-party business. The district court (1) imposed a constructive trust on the previous trust property based on the alleged improper transfer made by the partnership to the third party, and (2) entered a personal monetary judgment against the former trustee and the third party holding the former trust assets. At issue on appeal and cross-appeal was whether the in rem jurisdiction over the trust assets conferred upon the district court by Nev. Rev. Stat. 164.010(1) and 164.015(6) permitted the district court to impose the constructive trust and to enter the personal monetary judgment against the former trustee and third-party company. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 164.010(1) and 164.015(6) did not confer jurisdiction upon the district court to enter a constructive trust on the disputed assets and a personal monetary judgment against the former trustee and third-party company because in rem jurisdiction only extends to property, and the disputed assets were no longer trust property after they were transferred to the limited partnership. Remanded. View "In re Aboud Inter Vivos Trust" on Justia Law
In re Estate of Bethurem
The special administrator of Decedent's estate petitioned to have Decedent's estate set aside without administration according to Decedent's 2007 will. Decedent's stepdaughters opposed the petition, arguing that a beneficiary of the will had unduly influenced Decedent. The district court invalidated the will as the product of the beneficiary's undue influence. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) in the absence of a presumption of undue influence, a will contestant bears the burden of proving undue influence by a preponderance of the evidence; and (2) Decedent's stepdaughters failed to meet this burden of proof, and accordingly, the district court's order was not supported by substantial evidence. Remanded. View "In re Estate of Bethurem" on Justia Law
Frei v. Goodsell
Appellant sued the trustee of his deceased wife's estate, claiming that the trustee improperly transferred Appellant's assets into the trust. Appellant also sought to disqualify the attorney who prepared the trust documents (Attorney) from representing the trustee based on the district court's conclusion that a prior attorney-client relationship existed between Appellant and Attorney, creating a conflict of interest. After the trust litigation settled, Appellant sued Attorney for legal malpractice due to Attorney's failure to verify Appellant's intentions before preparing he documents for his signature. Before trial, Appellant sought to preclude Attorney from arguing that an attorney-client relationship did not exist because, under the doctrine of issue preclusion, Attorney could not deny the existence of an attorney-client relationship. The district court denied Appellant's motion. During trial, the district court ruled that evidence of Appellant's intent in executing the documents was precluded by the parol evidence rule. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly refused to apply the doctrine of issue preclusion because the issue of an attorney-client relationship between Appellant and Attorney was not necessarily litigated in the trust action; and (2) the district court did not err in applying the parol evidence rule. View " Frei v. Goodsell" on Justia Law
Bonnell v. Lawrence
In the second of two lawsuits brought by appellant Francie Bonnell against her daughter and son-in-law, respondents Sabrina and Steven Lawrence, Appellant appealed the grant of summary judgment from the first suit, along with its associated fee award. The underlying case arose from a $135,000 payment that Bonnell made to retire the mortgage debt on her daughter’s home ("Lindell premises"). Bonnell saw the payment as an advance on what her daughter would eventually inherit anyway, but with a catch: She expected, in return, a life estate in the premises, allowing her to live in the home, rent-free, for the rest of her life. The daughter acknowledged the $135,000 payment. However, she viewed it as a loan (which she and her husband repaid when they deeded Bonnell a different home with equity of $135,000). No writing memorialized the latter agreement, and the facts of the case questioned whether there was one. In her first suit, Bonnell asserted a variety of legal and equitable claims, all premised on her claimed life estate in the Lindell premises. Bonnell's attorney had withdrawn, and she continued in proper person. She received the motion for summary judgment, but she did not file a written opposition to it, and it was granted by written order. More than a year later, Bonnell obtained new counsel, who filed this second suit on her behalf. Although filed in the same judicial district and repeating the claims in the first suit, the second suit went to a new district court judge. The Lawrences moved to dismiss the second suit for failure to state a claim under NRCP 12(b)(5). They argued that res judicata barred relitigation of Bonnell’s claims and that, to the extent Bonnell identified grounds for avoiding the prior summary judgment, she could and should have asserted them by motion under NRCP 60(b)(1)-(3) within the six-month deadline specified in the rule. The district court credited the Lawrences’ arguments, rejected Bonnell’s, and dismissed the second suit with prejudice. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Bonnell v. Lawrence" on Justia Law
DeBoer v. Sr. Bridges of Sparks Fam. Hosp.
The issue before the Supreme Court centered on the duty of care owed by a medical facility when performing nonmedical functions. The Court took the opportunity of this case to recognize that when a medical facility performs a nonmedical function, general negligence standards apply, such that the medical facility has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm as a result of its actions. Here, the complaint alleged that appellant, a cognitively impaired patient who required a guardian to make medical and financial decisions for her, was exploited by a third party after a social worker employed by the respondent medical facility provided the third party with a preprinted general power-of-attorney form, which the patient subsequently executed in furtherance of her discharge from the facility. The manner in which the medical facility allegedly discharged the patient could lead a reasonable jury to find that the patient's financial injuries were a foreseeable result of the facility's conduct. Thus, the Supreme Court found that district court erred when it found that the medical facility owed the patient no duty beyond the duty to provide competent medical care and dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the order dismissing this action and remanded this case to the district court for further proceedings. View "DeBoer v. Sr. Bridges of Sparks Fam. Hosp." on Justia Law
In re Estate of Melton
The State and Testator's heirs disputed Testator's $3 million estate. Testator, by way of a handwritten will, attempted to disinherit all of his heirs but was unsuccessful in otherwise affirmatively devising his estate. The district court (1) determined that Testator's handwritten will was a valid testamentary instrument that revoked his earlier will, and (2) applied the common law, deeming Testator's disinheritance clause unenforceable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in (1) deeming the disinheritance clause unenforceable, as Nev. Rev. Stat. 132.370 abolishes the common law rules that would otherwise render a testator's disinheritance clause unenforceable in these circumstances; (2) determining that Nev. Rev. Stat. 132.130 precludes the doctrine of dependent relative revocation but did not err in determining that it was inapplicable under the facts of this case; and (3) determining that Testator's estate did not escheat, as escheat was triggered under the facts of this case. View "In re Estate of Melton" on Justia Law
Canarelli v. Dist. Court
At issue in this case was whether the district court had the authority to appoint an unwilling director trustee of a dissolved corporation for the purpose of defending actions against the corporation that arose post-dissolution and after completion of the winding-up process. Lawrence Canarelli, the trustee in this case, filed a writ for extraordinary relief compelling the district court to vacate its order appointing him as trustee in the underlying matters. The Supreme Court granted the trustee's petition and issued a writ of mandamus, holding that Canarelli could not be compelled by the district court to act as director trustee for the dissolved corporation under the relevant statutes.