Articles Posted in North Carolina Supreme Court

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In this case presenting the question of whether a handwritten codicil that referenced a provision of a self-proving will was valid the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals reversing the order of summary judgment in favor of a propounder, holding that the issue was not appropriate for summary judgment but instead presented a question of fact for the jury to resolve. Sometime after the testator executed a properly attested self-proving will a handwritten notation was added to the will. If a valid codicil, the notation modified the will and disinherited the caveators in favor of the proponent. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the proponent and ordered that the will be probated as modified by the codicil. The Court of Appeals reversed and directed the trial court to grant summary judgment for the caveators. The Supreme Court reversed, held (1) the self-proving will and the holographic codicil together clearly evidenced testamentary intent by simply referencing the applicable portion of the will to amend; but (2) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the phrase “begin[n]ing 7-7-03” showed the testator’s then-present testamentary intent. View "In re Will of Allen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing an order entered by the superior court removing a guardian of an estate and trustee under a special needs trust for breach of fiduciary duty. Mark Skinner was appointed as the guardian of the estate of Cathleen Bass Skinner. Mr. Skinner then executed the Cathleen Bass Skinner Special Needs Trust. Thereafter, the Assistant Clerk of Superior Court removed Mr. Skinner as trustee under the Special Needs Trust and as guardian of Ms. Skinner’s estate. The superior court affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Assistant Clerk did not err in determining that Mr. Skinner exceeded the scope of the discretion available to him to such an extent that grounds for his removal as the guardian of Ms. Skinner’s person and as trustee under the Special Needs Trust existed under N.C. Gen. Stat. 35A-1290 and 36C-7-706(b) and that these breaches of fiduciary duty justified his removal. View "In re Estate of Skinner" on Justia Law

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Janice Willis executed a general warranty deed reserving a life estate in her home for herself and conveying the remainder to her Eddie in fee simple. While Janice was still alive, Eddie died, and his interest passed to his children. Janice subsequently sought reformation of the deed based on unilateral mistake of the grantor in the absence of fraud. The trial judge granted a directed verdict for Defendants. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that, under Crawford v. Willoughby and its progeny, reformation of a deed was unavailable as a remedy in this case. View "Willis v. Willis" on Justia Law