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Court Reverses Finding of Undue Influence

September 1, 2017

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Originally posted on Bryan Cave Fiduciary Litigation

Undue influence occurs when a person’s free will is overpowered and replaced by the will of another.  In Missouri, a finding of undue influence generally requires the person who exerted influence to have been in a position of trust, and to have caused the coercion through active conduct.  Although the elements seem fairly straightforward, actually proving undue influence can be much trickier.  Because undue influence is often only demonstrated through circumstantial evidence, the ensuing courtroom testimony provides for a telling tale from lawyers and hairstylists and priests.

In Nestel v. Rohach, three of the four Nestel siblings tried to remove their sister, Melissa, as the personal representative of their mother’s estate.  The siblings claimed that Melissa exercised undue influence over Joanne, their mother, when Joanne made Melissa the beneficiary of several bank accounts

Your Estate Planning New Year’s Resolution Checklist

(This is an updated post from December 2015)

Need a New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2017? Here is an idea you probably hadn’t considered: review your estate planning documents.

If you are like most people, you are probably thinking that reading legal documents does not sound like an even remotely enjoyable way to start a new year. But, it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. Reviewing your documents does not mean you have to read them cover to cover. If you know what are the most important elements, it is easy to review your will, trust, and powers of attorney regularly to ensure they still comply with your wishes. These documents not only determine who will receive your property when you die, but also likely determine who has the right to make financial and major medical decisions during your lifetime. Needless to say, it is important

ESTATE PLANNING DURING AND AFTER DIVORCE

 

Divorce decree, gavel and folder shot on warm wooden surface

 

At a minimum, we recommend that our clients review their existing estate planning documents every few years, and also when big life changes are happening.  Going through a divorce is one of those times.  Here are some things to consider when you are considering divorce or separation, and after your divorce is final:

WHAT CAN YOUR SPOUSE REACH IN A DIVORCE?

WHAT CAN YOUR SPOUSE REACH IN A DIVORCE?

August 15, 2016

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Edward Peck

 

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In the recent decision, Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl, the Massachusetts Judicial Supreme Court overruled the appeals court decision and concluded that assets held in a discretionary trust created by a third party, where the husband is but one potential beneficiary of the trust, is not a marital asset to be divided on divorce.

Prince: Is His Legacy Really Untold?

34997441Update: According to media sources, a lawyer for Bremer Bank and Trust, the corporate fiduciary appointed to administerPrince’s estate,  said the bank is continuing to search for a will and the judge in the Court, Judge Kevin W. Eidge, stated “We are not finding that there’s no will, but that no will has yet been found.”

The following was originally published on April 28, 2016.

As we’ve all seen in the news, musician Prince passed away on April 21, 2016 at the age of 57.  According to news sources, on April 26, just five days later, one of Prince’s six siblings, his sister Tyka Nelson, filed documents with the Carver County probate court stating “I do not know of the existence of a Will and have no reason to believe that the Decedent

You won the lottery, now what?

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With up to $1.4 Billion at stake in Wednesday’s Powerball, those who play the lottery are busy making plans for what to do with all the money they may win.  If you win it, you won’t ever have to worry about money again – right?

Wrong.

Calling Captain Obvious?

Calling Captain Obvious?

November 5, 2015

Authored by: Kathy Sherby and Stephanie Moll

 

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With some minor exceptions, the facts are the same in PLR 201525002& PLR 201525003. In these PLRs, the Grantor transferred funds to an irrevocable trust for the Grantor’s own benefit and the benefit of several charities. In each case, the trust was created in a state other than the state of residence of the Grantor. In addition to the Trustee, each trust had an Investment Advisor, a Distribution Advisor, a Charity Distribution Advisor and a Trust Protector, none of whom were trust beneficiaries, except that the Charity Distribution Advisor was the Grantor’s spouse who was a potential appointee.

The Distribution Advisor had the power to direct the Trustee as to whether to make Quarterly Distributions, Support Distributions and Special Contingent Distributions to the Grantor, and also had the power to direct the

WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE TRUST IS NOT ASSET PROTECTED?

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In a recent bankruptcy case, Richard Lewiston unsuccessfully attempted to shelter his assets in the Lois and Richard Lewiston Living Trust (the “Trust”) from inclusion in his bankruptcy estate based on the Trust’s spendthrift provision. Here, the bankruptcy court looked to Michigan state law in applying the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and concluded the Trust property was part of Lewiston’s bankruptcy estate.

In California, Unambiguous Wills May Now Be Reformed

With drafting assistance from our Washington University School of Law extern, Alexander Fersa.

It seems the California Supreme Court agrees with Cole Porter that “times have changed.”

Abrogating 50 years of binding case law, in In re estate of Duke, the California Supreme Court elected to treat wills the same as trusts are treated under the Uniform Trust Code by allowing courts to look to extrinsic evidence when determining the intent of the testator. The Court concluded that an unambiguous will may be reformed if clear and convincing evidence establishes (1) that the will contains a mistake in the expression of the testator’s intent at the time the will was drafted and (2) the testator’s actual specific intent at the time the will was drafted.

The Court determined that there is no justification for a categorical bar on reformation of unambiguous wills so long as the reformation is supported by

Will New York State Join the List of Directed Trust States?

Will New York State Join the List of Directed Trust States?

May 26, 2015

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Karin Barkhorn

statuteoflibertyThe New York State legislature is considering becoming a directed trust state. In a directed trust, the trustee is allowed to act under the advice or direction of someone else, an advisor or protector, who could make decisions regarding investments, distributions or other trust matters. Earlier this year, the New York State Senate referred a bill to its Judiciary Committee which would expressly allow grantors to establish directed trusts in New York State and sets out general parameters for such trusts.

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