Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the county court that a modification of the terms of the trust of Jennie Shire was not authorized by the Nebraska Uniform Trust Code where the beneficiaries did not unanimously consent to the modification and the modification would not adequately protect the interests of the nonconsenting beneficiaries. The trustee of the trust at issue filed a petition for trust proceeding to provide increased disbursements from the trust to the remaining lifetime beneficiary. The county court ruled that the requested modification of the trust was not warranted under Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-3837 and 30-3838. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the beneficiaries did not unanimously consent to modification; (2) modification would not have adequately protected the nonconsenting beneficiaries; and (3) the county court was not presented with the issue of whether the trust could be modified under the common-law doctrine of deviation, and therefore, the doctrine of deviation was not appropriate for consideration on appeal. View "In re Trust of Shire" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court order granting summary judgment in favor of Heritage Bank in this action for forcible entry and detainer against James Gabel, C.J. Land & Cattle, L.P., and MCGFF, LLC after James failed to pay rent on farmland pursuant to a lease agreement. In its order, the district court concluded that Heritage Bank was the trustee of the Charles L. Gabel Revocable Trust, that Defendants did not timely deliver the 2015 crop payment to the trustee, that Defendants had notice they were not in compliance with the terms of the lease, and that the defect was not cured within a reasonable amount of time. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the record supported the district court’s finding that Heritage Bank was the trustee and had standing to bring this action; but (2) genuine issues of material fact remained regarding the other issues raised by Defendants, precluding summary judgment. View "Heritage Bank v. Gabel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part an order of the county court resulting from a trust’s beneficiaries’ suit against Lyle A. Forgey, another beneficiary and trustee. The parties were beneficiaries of the Glenn G. Forgey Revocable Trust. Plaintiffs Marvel Forgey and her three children sought to remove Lyle as trustee, secure administration of the trust, value trust assets, divide those assets into separate trusts for the beneficiaries, and determine liabilities for alleged breaches of Lyle’s fiduciary duties. Bessie Forgey-McCoy and her two children, also beneficiaries, joined as interested parties. The county court valued and distributed trust assets, assessed damages against Lyle for estate tax interest and penalties, and declined to award attorney fees or costs. All parties appealed. The Supreme Court held that the county court (1) erred by not awarding damages for Lyle’s untimely reports and accountings of his failure to collect rents on behalf of the trust; (2) abused its discretion in declining to award attorney fees to Marvel, Bessie, and their children; and (3) otherwise did not err in its findings. View "In re Estate of Glenn G. Forgey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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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

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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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

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the probate court denying the application of the decedent’s wife (Wife) to be treated as an omitted spouse under a section of the Nebraska Probate Code after the decedent made no provision for her in his will. The decedent’s estate resisted the application, arguing that Wife waived her rights to the estate in a prenuptial agreement. The probate court found that the prenuptial agreement was valid and that Wife had waived the right to take as an omitted spouse. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the probate court did not err in concluding that Wife executed the waiver voluntarily and in denying her application to take as an omitted spouse. View "In re Estate of Psota" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the county court’s denial of Petitioners’ petition for removal of the personal representative of the estate of the decedent pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 30-2454. Petitioners, devisees under the decedent’s will, disagreed with the personal representative’s decision to enter into a purchase agreement for the sale of a farm, arguing that the sale price was not in the best interests of the estate because, according to Petitioners’ appraiser, the value of the land was substantially higher. The county court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the county court did not err in concluding that Petitioners did not show cause for removal of the personal representative of the estate. View "In re Estate of Etmund" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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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

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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

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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