Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

by
In this dispute between the adult children of Robert T. McDowell and Betty Jane McDowell, the county court found ineffective Betty’s exercise of a limited power of appointment given to her by Robert’s trust when she appointed the assets in Robert’s trust to her own revocable trust. The court ordered that the assets be recovered and distributed through Robert’s trust. The Supreme Court modified the county court’s decision to the extent it failed to find that the trustee of Robert’s trust breached the trust and otherwise affirmed, holding that the trustee breached the trust when he distributed certain trust assets pursuant to an invalid exercise of appointment. View "In re Robert L. McDowell Revocable Trust" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
Dorothy Pluhacek died at 100 years of age. Thereafter, Margaret Hickey, the Provincial Superioress of the Omaha province of the Notre Dame Sisters, filed an application for information probate of a document that Hickey claimed to be Pluhacek’s valid will. The county court denied informal probate of the document, concluding that the document, which was signed by Pluhacek, did not qualify as a will because the material provisions were in Pluhacek’s handwriting and that a formal proceeding would be required to determine whether Pluhacek had left a valid holographic will. Hickey then filed an amended petition for formal probate of the document. The county court denied formal probate, concluding that because Hicky had not established that the document was in Pluhacek’s handwriting, it was not admissible as a holographic will. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) as a matter of law, the document was a properly executed will under Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2327; and (2) therefore, the county court erred when it denied formal probate. Remanded for formal probate. View "In re Estate of Pluhacek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
In 2011, eighty-six-year-old Carl Landgraf executed two joint warranty deeds conveying approximately 1,000 acres of farmland to Gail Neumeister and Marlene Neumeister. In 2012, Landgraf executed deeds to fix an error in the earlier deeds. After Landgraf’s death, Clarence Mock, as special administrator of Landgraf’s estate, sued the Neumeisters, alleging that the deeds were the product of undue influence and should be set aside. Following a trial, the district court found in favor of the Neumeisters on the claim of undue influence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Mock did not meet his burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence that the deeds were the result of undue influence. View "Mock v. Neumeister" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
Appellant was previously married to the decedent. Together, they had a son (Son). After the decedent died, Appellant filed a claim with the estate on Son’s behalf seeking one-half of Son’s reasonable secondary educational expenses not otherwise covered by his savings accounts. The estate disallowed the claim. Thereafter, Appellant filed suit against the estate, seeking that the court order that her previously filed order be “allowed” and that the court confirm the lien of the court’s judgment against real property owned by the estate. Appellant also sought to impose a constructive trust on the estate’s assets. The district court granted the estate’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the issue was not ripe for resolution because it was not possible for know the amount of “reasonable” educational expenses. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Appellant’s action was ripe because the unknowns presented by this case were insufficient to make Appellant’s suit not ripe. View "Harring v. Gress" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
This appeal arose from two consolidated appeals from proceedings in the county court. The first appeal was from the court’s final order appointing a conservator for Marcia Abbott, and the second was from the court’s order that acted both as a judgment in a trustee removal proceeding and as a final order denying fees and expenses in the conservatorship proceeding. The Supreme Court (1) dismissed the first appeal and dismissed the cross-appeal to the extent it pertained to the first appeal, holding that the conservatorship appointment order became moot upon Marcia’s death while the first appeal was pending; and (2) affirmed the remaining trust and conservatorship issues, including the order removing the successor trustee, declining to surcharge him, disposing of competing attorney fee applications, and otherwise disposing of the trust and conservatorship proceedings. View "In re Conservatorship of Abbott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
After Loyola Kaiser’s husband, Albert Kaiser, died, Heartland Trust Company, as Loyola’s conservator, filed an application in the county court seeking authority to file the elective share it argued was due to Loyola as Albert’s surviving spouse. The county court denied the application. Heartland appealed, arguing that the county court’s decision to deny its application did not conform to the law, was not supported by competent evidence, and was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the county court did not err when it denied Heartland’s request for authorizing to file for the elective share of Albert’s estate on Loyola’s behalf. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Kaiser" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
The dispute at the center of this case concerned an intestate estate. On appeal, one of the decedent’s two children argued that the county court erred in (1) approving the final accounting and ordering distribution accordingly, and (2) naming the decedent’s daughter-in-law as an heir at law. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the county court (1) erred when it included certain nonprobate assets in the intestate estate and when it found that the decedent’s daughter-in-law was an heir at law, and (2) did not err in excluding certain assets from the intestate estate. Remanded. View "In re Estate of Balvin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
In 2006, a Colorado court entered a decree for adult adoption making Plaintiff, who was fifty-eight years old at the time, the heir of Merrill Maddocks under the intestacy laws. In 2014, Merrill died without leaving any surviving children. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint to quiet title to a section of farmland, arguing that he was the owner of the property because he was the “eldest son” of Merrill under the will of Merrill’s great-uncle. Defendant, the person who takes the property if Plaintiff is not Merrill’s “eldest son,” argued that Plaintiff was not Merrill’s eldest son under the will because “it was not legally possible to adopt an adult” in Nebraska when the great-uncle died. The trial court quieted title in the property in Plaintiff, concluding that Plaintiff was Merrill’s eldest son because the Colorado decree was entitled to full faith and credit in Nebraska. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because Merrill and Plaintiff did not have a parent-child relationship, Plaintiff was not Merrill’s “eldest son” under the great-uncle’s will. Remanded with directions to quiet title to the property in Defendant. View "Burnett v. Maddocks" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

by
After Emil Alberts died, Lois Alberts, his surviving spouse, authorized her attorney to file a petition on her behalf to elect to take one-half of Emil’s augmented estate pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2313. Emil’s two nephews (Appellants), as coperaonal representatives of Emil’s estate and as beneficiaries of Emil’s trust, objected to the petition’s validity and to the calculation of Lois’ elective share within it. The county court found that Lois’ petition for elective share was validly filed and that certain trust property should be included in the augmented estate for purposes of calculating Lois’ elective share. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the county court did not err in finding that the petition for elective share was validly filed; but (2) the county court erred in failing to rule that the value of the trust property at issue should be excluded from the augmented estate under Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2314(c)(2). Remanded. View "In re Estate of Alberts" on Justia Law

by
Before Genevieve Franke’s death in 2014, she had been a resident of a nursing home. In 2013, Genevieve agreed to sell her farmland to her son John Franke at a price below its fair market value. Laurie Berggren, Genevieve's daughter, subsequently petitioned for the appointment of a conservator. The court appointed Laurie as Genevieve’s temporary conservator and Cornerstone Bank as Genevieve’s permanent conservator. Both Genevieve and John appealed. Before the parties filed briefs, Genevieve’s attorney filed a suggestion of death stating that Genevieve had died. Genevieve, through her attorney of record, sought an order to dismiss the appeal as moot and to vacate the county court’s order appointing a permanent conservator. John, in turn, moved for an order reviving the appeal. The Supreme Court overruled both of these motions, holding (1) Genevieve’s attorney has no standing to represent her in the Court after her death; (2) Genevieve’s death has abated John’s appeal, for which he has standing, because her competency and need for a conservator are moot issues; and (3) the abatement of John’s appeal does not require the Court to vacate the county court’s orders appointing a conservator. View "In re Conservatorship of Franke" on Justia Law