Justia Trusts & Estates Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Nevada
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In this dispute between a trust's trustee and beneficiary the Supreme Court granted the trustee's original writ petition seeking a writ of prohibition or, alternatively, mandamus on the grounds that a discovery order was improper as a matter of law, holding that neither the trust instrument nor Nevada trust law required the trustee to consider the beneficiary's other assets before making distributions from the trust. This case concerned three trusts - the Raggio Trust and its two subtrusts, the Marital Trust and the Credit Shelter Trust. The Raggio Trust named Trustee as the trustee and life beneficiary of the subtrusts. Respondents were named as remainder beneficiaries of the Marital Trust. Respondents sued Trustee alleging that Trustee improperly distributed funds from the Marital Trust and paid herself distributions in amounts that were more than necessary for her proper support, care and maintenance. To prove their claim, Respondents sought discovery of Trustee's accounting and distributions of the Credit Shelter Trust. The district court granted the motion to compel discovery. The Supreme Court granted Trustee's petition for a writ of prohibition, holding that neither Nev. Rev. Stat. 163.4176 nor the Raggio Trust required Trustee to consider her other assets in making distributions from the Marital Trust, and therefore, information about those assets was irrelevant. View "Raggio v. Second Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court concluding that a secondary beneficiary was entitled to property in a trust created by Paul and decedent Chari Colman, Paul's ex-wife, holding that the plain language of Nev. Rev. Stat. 111.781(1) automatically revokes any revocable disposition from one spouse to another upon divorce. While they were married, Paul and Chari lived in a home Chari owned as her separate property. Later, Chari transferred the property to the family trust but did not change its status as her separate property. The trust named Paul and Chari as the trust's primary beneficiaries and provided that, after their deaths, Tonya Collier was the beneficiary of the property. One month after Paul and Chari divorced, Chari died. Based on section 111.781(1), Collier filed a petition seeking to confirm her status as beneficiary to the property. The district court ordered the property transferred to Collier. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err by applying section 111.781 and concluding that it required revocation of Paul's interest in the property; and (2) substantial evidence supported the finding that the property remained Chari's separate property throughout the marriage. View "In re Colman Family Revocable Living Trust" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court overruled Barto v. Weishaar, 692 P.2d 498 (Nev. 1985), and its conclusion that a suggestion of death emanating from the deceased party must identify the deceased party's successor or representative to trigger the deadline set forth in Nev. R. Civ. P. 25(a)(1) to file a motion to substitute, holding that Barto expanded rule 25(a)(1) beyond its plain language. James McNamee was sued for damages. During the litigation, McNamee died. Counsel for McNamee filed a suggestion of death without naming a successor or representative. Thereafter, the probate court appointed Susan Clokey as special administrator to defend the negligence suit. McNamee's attorney later filed a motion to substitute Clokey as the party defendant in the negligence suit. The district court denied the motion and named Fred Waid as general administrator of McNamee's estate. McNamee's attorney moved to dismiss the personal injury case because his motion to substitute had been denied. The district court denied the motion and substituted Waid as the defendant in place of McNamee. The Supreme Court held (1) a suggestion of death that is properly served triggers the deadline for filing a motion to substitute regardless of whether it identifies the deceased party's successor or representative; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Petitioner's motion to substitute. View "McNamee v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting Respondent's motion to decant half of a wholly charitable trust's property, holding that the district court erred in ordering a course of action that the trust instrument did not permit and the settlors did not intend. The district court's order decanted half the trust's property into a newly created wholly charitable trust with the same purpose as the original charitable trust, to be administered solely by one trustee of the original trust. This action was taken against the objection of co-trustees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred by ordering the wholly charitable trust decanted under Nev. Rev. Stat. 163.556 because the terms of the trust instrument required the unanimous consent of all trustees to make a distribution of half of the trust's assets. View "Phung v. Doan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that where an individual has been appointed special administrator of an estate that includes residential real property, the special administrator resides in the property as his or her primary residence, and the special administrator retains an ownership interest via intestate succession laws, the special administrator is entitled to participate in a foreclosure mediation program (FMP) regarding the decedent’s residential real property, despite the fact that the property was purchased in the decedent’s name only. Appellant was the decedent’s spouse and the special administrator of the decedent’s estate. When Respondent commenced foreclosure proceedings on the home the decedent purchased in her name only, Appellant requested foreclosure mediation through Nevada’s FMP. The mediator concluded that the property was not eligible for the FMP because Appellant was not an owner or grantor of the property and because the order appointing him as special administrator did not specifically authorize him to participate in the FMP. The district court denied Appellant’s petition for judicial review. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Appellant obtained an ownership interest in the property upon the decedent’s death, the property served as his primary residence, and his status as special administrator authorized him to take action to preserve the decedent’s estate, Appellant was entitled to participate in the FMP. View "Pascua v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC" 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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These consolidated appeals concerned orders issuing a preliminary injunction, appointing a temporary trustee, granting summary judgment, and awarding attorney fees in a trust action. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed in part, holding (1) the district court correctly granted summary judgment regarding the trust interpretation; (2) the district court correctly granted summary judgment regarding the trustee’s breach of fiduciary duties of impartiality and to avoid conflicts of interest, and consequently, attorney fees were warranted; and (3) the preliminary injunction merged with the final judgment and was therefore moot. View "In re W.N. Connell & Marjorie T. Connell Living Trust" on Justia Law

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At issue in this consolidated matter was whether Nevada’s general slayer statutes apply to the Public Employees’ Retirement Act (PERS Act) for the purposes of determining payment of survivor benefits. The Supreme Court held (1) Nevada’s general slayer statutes are applicable to the PERS Act, and therefore, any person who kills their PERS-member spouse must be treated as if they predeceased the PERS-member spouse for the purposes of determining payment of survivor benefits (2) the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS) is not exempt from paying prejudgment or post-judgment interest; (3) it is within the district court’s discretion to award up to $1,500 in reasonable costs for a non testifying expert consultant under Nev. Rev. Stat. 18.005(5); and (4) attorney fees should not have been awarded in this case under Nev. Rev. Stat. 7.085 and 18.010. View "Pub. Employees' Retirement System of Nevada v. Gitter" on Justia Law

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Emil Frei and Adoria Frei, husband and wife, created an irrevocable trust (Trust) that was a spendthrift trust. The couple’s ten children were named equal beneficiaries under the Trust. After Adoria died, her son, Stephen Brock, successfully petitioned to modify the Trust with Emil’s consent. The petition proposed to alter the language controlling distribution of the Trust property, granting any beneficiary the right to compel distribution of his share of the Trust. The next year, Stephen settled several lawsuits that Emil and his children had brought against him. In the settlement, Stephen agreed to make payments to an alternate family trust, which he did not do. When Emil died, Stephen did not receive his share of the Trust funds. The trustee of the Trust used Stephen’s share of the Trust to pay a portion of his settlement debt. Stephen filed a petition to construe the terms of the Trust and compel repayment of the amount the trustee paid out on his behalf. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an irrevocable spendthrift trust may be modified by the survivor of two settlers and interested beneficiaries; and (2) therefore, the district court correctly determined that the modification and settlement were valid. View "In re Frei Irrevocable Trust" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was a district court order accepting jurisdiction over a trust with a situs in Nevada and finding personal jurisdiction over the investment trust advisor. The Supreme Court was asked to interpret Nev. Rev. Stat. 155.190(1)(h) and Nev. Rev. Stat. 163.555. The Supreme Court dismissed Christopher Davis’ appeal and denied his writ petition, holding (1) section 155.190(1)(h) only grants the Court appellate jurisdiction over the portion of an appealed order instructing or appointing a trustee and does not grant the Court appellate jurisdiction over all matters in an order instructing or appointing the trustee; and (2) persons accepting an appointment as an investment trust advisor for a trust with a situs in Nevada impliedly consent to personal jurisdiction in Nevada under section 163.5555. View "In re Beatrice B. Davis Family Heritage Trust" on Justia Law