Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates
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Collins filed an application for informal probate of the decedent's will. The submitted will disinherited the decedent’s children, devised most of the estate to Collins, and appointed Collins as personal representative. The will was dated January 27, 2021; the decedent died on January 31. The county court granted Collins’ application, The children objected, alleging that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity and the decedent was under undue influence when he executed the 2021 will. They offered for formal probate a will, executed in 2002, under which they were to inherit the residue of the decedent’s estate. They sought an order restraining Collins from acting as personal representative.Before the court ruled on the requests, the children filed a notice of transfer to the district court. The county court found that the children’s petition commenced a formal testacy proceeding and that their notice of transfer effectuated a transfer of jurisdiction so that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on the requests for a special administrator and a restraining order. The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed. The fact that a district court has obtained, via the transfer of the will contest, “jurisdiction over the proceeding on the contest” does not divest the county court of its original jurisdiction in probate to protect the estate during the pendency of that will contest by considering the merits of a petition for a special administrator and request for a restraining order on the personal representative. View "In re Estate of Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the county court approving the schedule of distribution for the estate of Blain Larson, holding that the court erred in charging inheritance tax to the estate.Cindy Svoboda, the personal representative of Blain's estate, filed a formal petition for complete settlement after an informal testate proceeding and schedule of distribution. The court dismissed Matthew's objection to Cindy's proposal for distribution and approved the distribution. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the court erred in charging inheritance tax to the estate; and (2) this appeal was otherwise without merit. View "In re Estate of Larson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the probate court appointing the decedent's mother as personal representative, ordering that letters of personal representative be issued to her, and issuing such letters even though the mother had not yet accepted the appointment, holding that the court's issuance of letters was an unauthorized action.More than three years following the decedent's death, the estate was opened for the purpose of serving a lawsuit against the decedent. The court appointed the mother as personal representative for the purpose of receiving service of the civil action and, that same day, issued letters of personal representative to the mother even though the mother had not accepted the appointment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the issuance of letters of personal representative was an unauthorized action without the appointee's qualification. View "In re Estate of Severson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court that instructed a receiver to continue its management of agricultural land, in which Appellants, the testator's children, each held fractional life estates along with the testator's surviving spouse, holding that it was too late to attack the receiver's appointment.In 2019, the court appointed a receiver. In 2021, the court provided further instructions to the receiver. Appellants appealed, arguing that the district court appointed a receiver for 2021 without either party requesting the appointment and without deciding that a receiver was needed or necessary. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the receiver was appointed in 2019, not 2021, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in its instructions to the receiver. View "Seid v. Seid" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Thomas Pribil and William Kilzer (together, Appellees), the copersonal representatives of the estate of Charles E. Lakin and the cotrustees of the Charles E. Lakin Revocable Trust, holding that a dispute of material fact existed precluding summary judgment.Appellant in this case was the Charles E. Lakin Foundation, Inc. Appellant argued that Appellees improperly paid Pribil approximately $7 million after Lakin's death. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Pribil and Kilzer in their individual and representative capacities. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a dispute of material fact existed regarding the foundation's fudicairy duty claims against Appellees as copersonal representatives and cotrustees. View "In re Estate of Lakin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court dismissed for lack of a final, appealable order the probate court's denial of Appellant's "Verified Petition for Instruction" referencing Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-402, holding that the petition was not final and appealable.Appellant was a child of Rosa and Armengol Beltran, both deceased. After Armengol's death, a probate estate was opened. In an attempt to investigate his allegations that his sister and her husband failed to pay back loans owed to Rosa and Armengol Appellant served his brother-in-law with a deposition duces tecum requesting that he produce certain tax returns. When the request went unanswered Appellant filed his "Verified Petition for Instruction" asking that his sister appear and account for her actions in Rosa's estate. The probate court denied the petition for instruction. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant's appeal, holding that the probate court's order denying Appellant's petition did not affect Appellant's substantial rights and was therefore not final. View "In re Estate of Beltran" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the county court denying petitions to recover fees and expenses incurred by a nominated personal representative and his attorney who unsuccessfully probated a will that the attorney drafted, holding that the court's reasons for denying fees and expenses for services after the decedent's death were legally erroneous.The Supreme Court reversed the county court's denial of compensation for actions taken after the decedent's death and remanded the case, holding (1) the county court did not err in finding that claims for fees and expenses from the estate for services performed by the attorney prior to the decedent's death were time barred; (2) the court's reasons for denying expenses and fees for services after the decedent's death were erroneous; and (3) the remaining requests for relief were not supported by a discernible legal argument. View "In re Estate of Giventer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court reversed the rulings of the district court on summary judgment invalidating a transfer-on-death (TOD) executed by Wife before her death naming Daughter as the designated beneficiary to her interest in a house titled solely in Wife's name and dismissing Daughter's counterclaim for slander of title, holding that the TOD deed was not invalid.Husband, who died during the course of these proceedings, brought this action alleging that he was the rightful owner of the house at issue because, in part, the TOD deed was invalid because "Nebraska deeds conveying an interest in real property held by a married person must be executed by both spouses." Daughter counterclaimed for slander of title. The court sustained Husband's motion for partial summary judgment, finding that the TOD deed was void as a matter of law for failing to satisfy Neb. Rev. Stat. 40-104. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) as a matter of law, section 40-104 does not apply to TOD deeds; and (2) the TOD in this case was not void, and Daughter counterclaim was no longer moot. View "Chambers v. Bringenberg" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court declaring that the marriage between Steven Greg Meyer (Greg) and Molly Stacey, deceased, to be null and void and ordering Greg and his son, Mark Meyer, to execute instruments to relinquish certain property interests they obtained from Molly before her death, holding that Greg and Mark's arguments on appeal lacked merit.After Molly was diagnosed with cancer, Molly and Greg married. Just over one week later, Molly died intestate. Molly's adult children filed a declaratory judgment action against Greg and Mark seeking declarations that the property interest changes Molly made in favor of the Meyers and her marriage to Greg were void and invalid. The district court generally found in favor of Molly's children and the special administrator. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Greg and Mark's jurisdictional assignments of error lacked merit; (2) the district court correctly found that Molly lacked the requisite mental capacity and acted under undue influence; and (3) the district court erred in failing to rule that a boat Molly purchased and titled in Mark's name should be regarded as held in a resulting trust by Mark for Molly's benefit. View "Malousek v. Meyer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates
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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment concluding that Robert Bohling's father left a valid will, holding that there was no merit to any of Robert's assignments of error.When Willis Bohling (Bohling) died, he left a self-proved will. His daughter, Kimberly Bohling, initiated informal probate proceedings and was appointed the personal representative of Bohling's estate. Robert objected and filed a petition seeking dismissal of the informal probate application and requesting a determination of intestacy, a determination of heirs, and appointment of a special administrator. Kimberly moved for summary judgment, arguing that the will was valid and should be admitted to probate. The district court granted summary judgment for Kimberly. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Robert's arguments on appeal were without merit. View "Bohling v. Bohling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates