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Donald initially listed no beneficiary who would take any funds remaining in his individual retirement account at his death. In 2013, he was hospitalized. During his hospitalization, someone designated his wife, JoAnn, as beneficiary. When Donald was released from the hospital, he sought a temporary restraining order and injunction. The spouses stipulated to an injunction ordering that neither party engage in any transaction regarding the parties’ financial accounts. That injunction action was later combined with a dissolution action. While still bound by the injunction, Donald changed the beneficiary designation to his sons. After the combined actions were dismissed, Donald died. JoAnn filed suit, alleging that the beneficiary change violated the injunction so that the change was void. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the suit. The injunction did not mention changes of beneficiaries; the change of beneficiary did not vest during the pendency of the injunction or the combined underlying actions. The change of ownership did not occur until after the injunction was dismissed. The circuit court could have distributed whatever amount of the IRA that it found equitable had the dissolution action proceeded to a final judgment. An individual does not, however, have the same interest in her spouse’s property at probate that she does at dissolution. View "Smith v. Vanguard Group Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment and held that a "Trust Transfer Deed," signed by husband, granting certain real property to his wife, did not met Family Code section 852(a)'s express declaration requirement. The court held that without an express statement specifying what interest in the property was granted to wife, the reference to a "Trust Transfer" left the document's purpose ambiguous and thus rendered the purported transmutation invalid under section 852(a). The court held that the deed was fairly susceptible of at least two interpretations―the one wife proffered, whereby husband granted all of his interest in the property to her, thereby transmuting the residence into her separate property, and the one husband proffered, whereby he granted only an interest in trust to wife for the couple's estate planning purposes. View "Begian v. Sarajian" on Justia Law

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In 2016, the Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment ordering Lu Tuan Nguyen to return funds to the Conservatorship of the Person and Estate of Joseph Ribal. On remand, the trial court awarded attorney fees incurred in enforcing the underlying judgment to Linda Rogers, the conservator, of $43,507.50. Nguyen argued on appeal of that order that he satisfied the underlying judgment, and after reviewing the record, the Court of Appeal agreed. Because Code of Civil Procedure section 685.080 (a), required such motions to be made before the judgment is satisfied, the Court agreed with Nguyen that the motion was untimely. Therefore, the order granting Rogers $43,507.50 in attorney fees was reversed. View "Conservatorship of Ribal" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's award of attorney fees and costs in this dispute over the management and the distribution of monetary assets of a family trust. The court held that the trial court properly applied the substantial benefit theory, an offshoot of the common fund doctrine, in making its award of fees from trust assets. In this case, substantial evidence supported the finding that the litigation substantially benefited all beneficiaries and that litigation preserved trust assets when the accounts were frozen. The court explained that the litigation preserved a common fund for the benefit of the non-participating beneficiaries. View "Smith v. Szeyller" on Justia Law

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George Seccombe and other heirs of Olaf Nasset ("Nasset heirs") and the intervener plaintiffs, Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., and Alameda Energy, Inc., appealed a judgment deciding ownership of certain minerals in Mountrail County, North Dakota. Olaf Nasset died in November 1961, and Lakeside State Bank, as executor of his estate, petitioned the county court for authority to sell real property belonging to the estate. On August 6, 1962, the county court ordered the final discharge of the executor. A few days later, the executor petitioned to re-open the estate because reserved mineral interests were inadvertently left out of the final decree and it was necessary that the estate be reopened for the sole purpose of correcting the error by entering an amended final decree of distribution including the 1/2 mineral interest. The county court granted the petition. On August 10, 1962, an amended final decree of distribution was entered, stating each of the five named heirs received a 1/10 mineral interest. In 2012, the Nasset heirs sued the heirs of Gilbert Rohde and other parties claiming an interest in the minerals through the Rohde heirs. The Nasset heirs sought to quiet title and determine ownership of the minerals, revision of the executor's deed, and damages for a slander of title claim. They alleged the original heirs of Olaf Nasset intended to reserve a one-half mineral interest and they are entitled to receive legal title to one-half of the minerals as provided in the published notice of sale of the real property and the amended executor's deed. The Nasset heirs also sued Lakeside for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging Lakeside had fiduciary obligations to the estate, it was aware or should have been aware of the heirs' intention to retain a one-half mineral interest, and it breached its fiduciary duty by executing the executor's deed to Gilbert Rohde without properly reserving the mineral interests.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Rohde heirs and against the Nasset heirs, quieted title in favor of the Rohde heirs, and dismissed the Nasset heirs' claim for slander of title. The district court concluded the Rohde heirs own the minerals because the original executor's deed approved by the court was final, a legal action was required to undo the executor's deed, neither the heirs nor the executor commenced an action to correct or vacate the deed, and therefore the subsequent orders and the amended deed had no effect. The court also concluded the Nasset heirs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Seccombe v. Rohde" on Justia Law

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Marby and Susan Hogen appealed the grant of summary judgment in their quiet title action in favor of the Curtiss A. Hogen Trust B and the Estate of Arline Hogen for an interest in 737 acres of farmland in Barnes and Cass Counties, North Dakota. Marby and Susan Hogen argued the district court erred in not quieting title to the land in them. After review of the trial court record, which included the various conveyances over the course of 50 years, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the Hogens held no interest in the land, and as such, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Trust and Estate. View "Hogen v. Hogen" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s application for a decree of summary distribution of real property of the estate of her grandfather (Decedent) on the ground that Appellant lacked standing to file the application, holding that the district court did not err in its analysis of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 2-1-205. Section 2-1-205 concerns who can file as a distributed and from whom a distributed may claim. On appeal, Appellant argued that she was a distributee of Decedent’s estate and therefore had standing to apply for summary distribution of Decedent’s real property. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the definition of distributee applies solely to persons who are entitled to property of a decedent through that decedent’s will or the statutes of intestate succession as applied to that decedent; and (2) Appellant was not a distributee of Decedent’s estate, and therefore, Appellant was not a proper applicant under section 2-1-205. View "In re Estate of Chris Robert Frank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that, to the extent a surviving spouse’s shares of a deceased spouse’s estate exceeds $25,000, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 191, 15, the Commonwealth’s elective share statute, reduces his or her interest in the real property from outright ownership to a life estate. The dispute here centered on the nature of a surviving spouse’s interest in a deceased spouse’s real property where the surviving spouse’s shares of the decedent’s personal and real property together exceeded $25,000 in value. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) where a surviving spouse elects to waive the provisions of a deceased spouse’s will in accordance with section 15 and the decedent left issue, the surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the decedent’s personal property and one-third of the decedent’s real property; (2) the above is subject to the limitation that if the surviving spouse’s shares of the real and property property, taken together, exceed $25,000 in value, then the surviving spouse takes $25,000 absolutely and a life estate in any remaining real property; and (3) further, any remaining personal property must be held in trust for the duration of the surviving spouse’s life with the surviving spouse entitled to the income therefrom. View "Ciani v. MacGrath" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Oregon Supreme Court: Under Oregon law, does a constructive trust arise at the moment of purchase of a property using fraudulently-obtained funds, or does it arise when a court orders that a constructive trust be imposed as a remedy? View "Wadsworth v. Talmage" on Justia Law

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Gregory and Andrea Chernushin owned a second home in Colorado in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Eventually, Mr. Chernushin (not Ms. Chernushin) filed for bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy proceedings, Mr. Chernushin died. The bankruptcy trustee, Robertson Cohen, then filed an adversary complaint against Ms. Chernushin, seeking to sell the home. Ms. Chernushin argued the bankruptcy estate no longer included any interest in the home because Mr. Chernushin’s joint tenancy interest ended at his death. The bankruptcy court agreed with Ms. Chernushin, as did the district court on appeal. The trustee appealed, but the Tenth Circuit concurred the bankruptcy estate had no more interest in the home than Mr. Chernushin and Mr. Chernushin’s interest extinguished when he died. View "Cohen v. Chernushin" on Justia Law