Justia Trusts & Estates Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Missouri
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's wrongful death lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad Company under the Federal Employes' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. 51, et seq. (FELA), holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend her petition out of time.Plaintiff brought this action in her purported capacity as the personal representative of the estate of her husband (Decedent). In its motion to dismiss, Union Pacific argued that, prior to filing suit, Plaintiff was not appointed the personal representative of Decedent's estate, as required under 45 U.S.C 51. The circuit court granted Plaintiff thirty days to obtain the appointment and amend her petition. Plaintiff, however, was not appointed the personal representative of Decedent's estate until after the deadline. The circuit court dismissed the action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to further extend the deadline for Plaintiff to file an amended petition out of time. View "Holmes v. Holmes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding that the petition filed by a trust's sole beneficiary seeking removal of the trustee violated the trust's no-contest clause and in entering summary judgment in the trustee's favor on its declaratory judgment claim, holding that the no-contest clause in the trust document was enforceable.After the beneficiary in this case stopped receiving distributions from the trust, he filed suit against the trustee for removal of the trustee and breach of trust. The trustee filed a counterclaim seeking a judgment declaring that the petition violated the trust instrument's no-contest clause and thus canceled and revoked all trust provisions in the beneficiary's favor. The circuit court sustained the motion for summary judgment on the trustee's counterclaim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the beneficiary did not seek relief form the no-contest clause pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 456.4-420 and instead filed a petition asserting the claims the settlor unambiguously stated would forfeit the beneficiary's interest in the trust, the circuit court properly found the petition violated the trust's no-contest clause. View "Knopik v. Shelby Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals made permanent a preliminary order in mandamus it issued in this action filed by the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri (Curators) seeking to require the circuit court to transfer venue in the underlying action to Boone County, holding that there was no venue in the underlying action in St. Louis County.This writ arose from a declaratory action concerning a Decedent's last will and testament. Hillsdale College filed suit in St. Louis County challenging Curators' administration of the funds of Decedent's trust. Curators filed this petition seeking to transfer the matter to the probate division of the circuit court in Boone County, Curators' usual place of business records where pertaining to the trust were kept. The Court of Appeals granted the writ, holding that because the trust could be registered in Boone County, Boone County was the proper venue for this case. View "State ex rel. Board of Curators of University of Missouri v. Honorable Joseph L. Green" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the probate division denying the application of Ruth Mickels (“Mickels”) to be appointed as personal representative of the estate of her late husband, Joseph Mickels, Sr. The probate denied the application as untimely under Mo. Rev. Stat. 473.020, which requires all applications to be filed within one year of the decedent’s death. By the time the application was filed, the decedent had been deceased for seven years. On appeal, Mickels argued that Mickels v. Danrad, 486 S.W.3d 327 (Mo. banc 2016) (“Mickels I”), announced a new cause of action previously unavailable in Missouri and that equity required the allowance of an out-of-time appointment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mickels’s application for appointment as personal representative was time-barred by section 473.020 because (1) Mickels I did not announce a new cause of action; and (2) where the court was obligated to follow the clearly articulated statute of limitations, it could not exercise an equitable powers to provide relief in this case. View "In re Estate of Joseph B. Mickels" on Justia Law