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Janice Pickens appealed a probate court order denying the admission to probate of a will on the basis that the will was not signed by at least two witnesses as required by section 43-8-131, Ala. Code 1975. The Alabama Supreme Court found section 43-8-131 was not ambiguous, and that there was “simply nothing in the statute that would prohibit a notary public from serving as a witness. Indeed, the fact that Ingram signed the will in her capacity as a notary public is immaterial to her qualification to serve as a witness to the will because 43-8-131 does not require that the signatures of the testator or the witnesses be notarized. The important fact here is not the capacity in which Ingram executed the document, i.e., as a notary public, but rather that she observed [the testator’s] signing of the document and affixed her signature thereto. We see no reason to exclude Ingram as a witness simply because she signed in her official capacity as a notary public.” View "Pickens v. Estate of Donald Harrison Fenn" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Wayne and Ruth Ross, trustees of the Wayne Ross Revocable Trust and the Ruth Ross Revocable Trust, respectively, appealed a superior court order in favor of defendants Donald Ross and Rossview Farm, LLC (the LLC). Plaintiffs contested findings that the parties entered into a lease for the plaintiffs’ lifetimes and that they had no right to evict the defendants pursuant to RSA 540:2, II(d) or (e) (2007). The trial court found that plaintiffs conceded that a June 23, 2006 document satisfied the statute of frauds because, in their post-trial memorandum, plaintiffs explained their position that the June 23, 2006 document “is a writing signed by all the parties that states the terms of the parties’ agreement. This document satisfies the statute of frauds and governs their relationship.” The “clear” language of the June 23, 2006 document, plaintiffs posited, created a yearly lease. However, plaintiffs also argued in the post-trial memorandum that defendants’ introduction of parol evidence of the parties’ intent to create a perpetual lease violated the statute of frauds because “the intent of the parties to create a perpetual lease must be clear from the face of the document and there must be a document to satisfy the statute of frauds.” Thus, plaintiffs did not concede that the June 23, 2006 document satisfied the statute of frauds for all purposes; instead, they contended that it “satisfies the statute of frauds” if the document was read to create a yearly lease. The New Hampshire Supreme Court vacated and remanded, finding the trial court’s finding that plaintiffs conceded the issue lacked evidentiary support, and concluded plaintiffs did not waive their statute of frauds argument by concession. View "Ross v. Ross" on Justia Law

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Darlene Slamen, Charles Martin, Wilhelmina Martin, and Harris Partnership, LLP ("Harris LLP") (collectively "the defendants"), appealed a circuit court order granting Herbert Slamen's motion for a preliminary injunction. Herbert and Darlene married in 1981 and later formed Harris LLP, of which Herbert, Darlene, Charles, and Wilhelmina each owned a 25% share. In 2008, Herbert was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and, in 2010, he moved to Thailand because, Darlene said, he wanted "to enjoy what remained of his life." After moving to Thailand, Herbert was dependent upon Darlene to send him the proceeds generated from his assets so that he could pay for living expenses and medical treatment. Payments in an agreed amount were deposited in a checking account in Thailand set up in Herbert's name. In addition to his interest in Harris LLP, Herbert's assets included a house in Alabama, a house in Florida, and an interest in the dental practice from which Herbert had retired. In 2013, Herbert, via his attorney in fact, established the Herbert A. Slamen Revocable Living Trust ("the trust") to facilitate the management of his assets, and he thereafter transferred his assets, including his interest in Harris LLP, to the trust. Herbert was the beneficiary of the trust, and both he and Darlene were the appointed cotrustees. In 2016, Herbert sued the defendants, alleging that he had revoked the trust but that Darlene, purportedly under her authority as cotrustee, had nevertheless transferred the assets of the trust to herself. As a result, Herbert alleged, the defendants had "failed to distribute proceeds from [Harris LLP] to [Herbert] and instead made all payments directly to Darlene." Herbert filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in which he requested that the trial court enjoin the defendants "from disbursing funds and profits from [Harris LLP] and requiring [the defendants] to keep all funds and profits in the regular business account of [Harris LLP] until the resolution of this case." The motion was granted, and the defendants appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed, finding the underlying causes of action asserted in Herbert's complaint were actions at law that alleged only monetary loss and sought only to recover monetary damages for that alleged loss. Thus, Herbert's alleged injury was not irreparable, given that it can be adequately redressed with the monetary damages he sought if he was able to prove that the defendants wrongfully divested him of the proceeds generated from his assets. View "Slamen v. Slamen" on Justia Law

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Lawrence Belt had the right to withdraw funds from joint bank accounts owned by Lawrence and Lila Belt during their marriage by virtue of W.Va. Code 31A-4-33. After Lawrence withdrew funds from the joint bank accounts, both he and Lila died. Lawrence’s estate, through his executrix (Petitioner), and Lila’s estate, through her executor (Respondent) disputed the ownership of the funds Lawrence withdrew from the joint accounts. The circuit court split the funds in half to prevent the perceived unjust enrichment of Lawrence’s estate. The Supreme Court reversed and entered judgment in favor of Petitioner, holding that the withdrawals from the joint accounts by both Lawrence during the marriage were proper under section 31A-4-33 pertaining to joint bank accounts with the right of survivorship, an therefore, Lawrence was entitled to the balance of the funds left in the joint accounts by way of survivorship. View "Wakim v. Pavlic" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the county court concerning the distribution of the Sheila Foxley Radford Trust, holding that the county court had insufficient evidence upon which it could base its findings. The county court concluded that a gift from Sheila Foxley Radford to Mary Radford was in satisfaction of Mary’s inheritance from the trust. The gift preceded the trust’s restatement but was acknowledged by Mary as an inheritance in a contemporaneous writing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the transcript before it was insufficient to support the decision of the county court, and the matter must be remanded for a new hearing. View "In re Estate of Radford" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's affirmance of the bankruptcy court's order enforcing a stipulated agreement in adversary proceedings seeking to debar an attorney from submitting claims to asbestos trusts. The trusts were created through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of entities exposed to significant asbestos liability. In Golden v. California Emergency Physicians Medical Group, 782 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 2015), the panel held that assessing the validity of a settlement agreement is a question of state contract law. In this case, the district court never addressed whether federal law governed this case, and it was unclear whether the district court was even aware that the trusts contended that federal law controlled its decision. Furthermore, the district court also did not apply Golden to the settlement at issue. Accordingly, the court remanded so that the district court can decide whether federal or state law governs (including whether the federal law argument has been waived), and what impact, if any, Golden has on this case. View "Mandelbrot v. J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust" on Justia Law

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This case involves the revocation of a will due to after-born children of the testator. The probate court determined the will did not contemplate the birth of future children, and therefore their birth revoked the will. The named beneficiary appeals. Finding no reversible error in that decision, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hobbs v. Winfield" on Justia Law

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Edwyna Ivey ("Edwyna") appealed a circuit court judgment denying her petition for an omitted-spouse share of the estate of her late husband, R.E. Ivey ("R.E."). In 1975, R.E. executed a will leaving the entirety of his estate to his first wife, Nancy, or, in the event Nancy preceded him in death, to his and Nancy's four children: Sharyl Eddins ("Sharyl"), William "Robbie" Ivey, Dell Moody, and Ty Ivey, in equal shares. R.E.'s 1975 will was the only will he ever executed and that he never executed a codicil to that will. Sharyl was named executor of R.E.'s estate. Even though Sharyl offered evidence indicating that R.E. and Edwyna had agreed that "what was hers would stay hers and what was his would stay his" in an attempt to prove that R.E. intentionally omitted Edwyna from his will, the Alabama Supreme Court determined she failed to offer evidence proving either that R.E.'s will indicated that Edwyna's omission was intentional or that R.E. intentionally disinherited Edwyna because he had made nontestamentary transfers to her intended to be in lieu of a testamentary provision. By failing to prove that either exception enumerated in section 43-8- 90, Ala. Code 1975 applied, Sharyl failed to prove that the omission of Edwyna from R.E.'s will was intentional, despite what other evidence might have indicated. The Court's reversal of the denial of Edwyna's omitted-spouse claim is therefore in accord with the legislature's intent in enacting 43-8-90 –- to avoid the unintentional disinheritance of a spouse who marries a testator after the execution of the testator's will. View "Ivey v. Estate of R.E. Ivey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s application to probate his father’s will. Plaintiff allegedly learned about his father’s will more than three years after he and his brother commenced an informal probate proceeding to administer their father’s intestate estate. The father’s other two children objected to probating the will. The district court granted summary judgment to the objectors and dismissed the amended petition as time barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err (1) in determining that the three-year statute of limitations barred Plaintiff’s application to probate his father’s will; (2) in determining that Plaintiff failed to prove elements of equitable estoppel; and (3) in rejecting Plaintiff’s argument of equitable tolling. View "In re Estate of Fuchs" on Justia Law

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This civil action arose out of the alleged mishandling of the Conservatorship of Victoria Newsome. Victoria Newsome’s mother and conservator, Marilyn Newsome, filed suit against former chancellor Joe Dale Walker, Chancellor David Shoemake, and other parties. Victoria’s severely infirm condition was the result of medical malpractice. A trust was established out of the proceeds from settlement of the malpractice case. Newsome raised numerous claims seeking redress, and a full accounting of the conservatorship, when the two chancellors were sanctioned by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. The Mississippi Supreme Court determined the doctrine of judicial immunity applied to bar Newsome’s claims, made on behalf of the Victoria Newsome Conservatorship, against former chancellor Joe Dale Walker and Chancellor David Shoemake. The Court therefore affirmed the judgment of the Chancery Court of Simpson County granting a Rule 54(b) dismissal. In addition, the Court granted Keely McNulty’s Motion to Strike Allegation and others involved in the administration of the conservatorship. View "Newsome v. Shoemake" on Justia Law