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The Inheritance Rights Of ‘Rejected’ Adopted Children

From BryanCaveFiduciaryLitigation.com

When it comes to so-called ‘rejected’ adopted children, many of us are most familiar with the outrage in 2010 when a Tennessee woman sent her adopted son back to Russia on a one-way flight after claiming the 7-year-old had bouts of violence.  But what about the inheritance rights of these adopted children?  Do they have any?

Who Should An Expert On Testamentary Capacity Talk To Before Rendering An Opinion?

February 27, 2013

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Whether a testator had the requisite capacity to execute a will is often the subject of lay testimony.  We’ve frequently talked here about how important the testimony of the drafting attorney, the attesting witnesses, and the notary are in undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity cases.  But, sometimes it may be worth getting an expert to testify in these cases especially when there may be some complex capacity issues.  If you get an expert, however, there’s still the issue of qualifying him or her.

And, even if you have an expert, here’s another reminder of how important the drafting attorney and witnesses to the will are.  In Fowler v. Kulhowvick (Rule 1:28 decision), a Massachusetts probate court actually rejected the expert testimony of a psychologist who failed to interview the drafting attorney and witnesses before offering an opinion on

What Can Happen When Some – But Not All – Beneficiaries Waive Their Interests In A Trust

February 25, 2013

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There are reasons why trust beneficiaries may want to waive or disclaim their interests in a trust.  But, if multiple class members intend or agree to collectively waive their interests, they may want to make sure that each class member actually waives his or her interest.  Otherwise, as we recently saw in the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision in White v. Call, the holdouts may wind up with everything.

Recluse Leaves Estate to Actors

Recluse Leaves Estate to Actors

February 21, 2013

Authored by: Stephanie Moll and alan-singer

What to do when you have no friends or family to whom to leave your estate? Why not do what Ray Fulk of Illinois did? Fulk had no family to which he wanted to leave his estate, so he executed a Will leaving $5,000 to his favorite charity, and the rest of his nearly $1,000,000 estate to his two favorite actors, Kevin Brophy (perhaps most famously known for his role in the 1977 television show, Lucan) and Peter Barton (who spent five years on The Young and the Restless in the 80s and 90s and starred in Linda Blair’s 1981 movie, Hell Night), whom he had never met.

The Inheritance Rights Of ‘Rejected’ Adopted Children

February 20, 2013

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When it comes to so-called ‘rejected’ adopted children, many of us are most familiar with the outrage in 2010 when a Tennessee woman sent her adopted son back to Russia on a one-way flight after claiming the 7-year-old had bouts of violence.  But what about the inheritance rights of these adopted children?  Do they have any?

We previously looked at the inheritance rights of biological children adopted out of a family.  Today we’ll turn to the inheritance rights of adopted children who are adopted out of a family in the Matter of Svenningsen, a case of first impression in New York.

All Trust Beneficiaries Were Necessary Parties To Litigation Over A No-Contest Clause In A Trust

February 18, 2013

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We’ve previously looked at the question of who needs to be joined as a party to trust litigation.  In blogging about a petition for accounting in Illinois in which all trust beneficiaries were not named as parties, we said:

Failure to Join Necessary Parties.  Not all of the contingent trust beneficiaries were parties to the lawsuit.  If they were all joined to the lawsuit, the federal court would lack jurisdiction to hear the case because there would not have been diversity jurisdiction insofar as the suit wouldn’t have been between citizens of different states.  The Court, therefore, had to determine whether all trust beneficiaries were required to be parties to a lawsuit for an accounting.  By the very nature of the claim for an accounting, the other trust beneficiaries were not necessary parties.  First, complete relief could be accorded among the

First-Time Father at 94? Illinois Court Calls Foul

It is no secret that when it comes to inheriting money, people have been known to dream up some creative schemes to get rich. Recently, however, an Illinois Appellate Court nixed the idea that marrying a man and persuading him to adopt—at the age of 94—your 50-plus year-old children could be a successful means to that end.

In November, the court in Dixon v. Weitekamp-Diller held that to allow the four adult adoptees, at least one of whom was a grandmother, to inherit under several trusts created to benefit descendants of the settlor would be to give judicial approval to an act of “subterfuge.” Where an adult adoption is undertaken solely to make the adoptee an heir or a beneficiary of a trust, the court ruled, the adoptee will not be permitted to inherit.

At issue in the case were three trusts created by ancestors of William Hughes Diller,

What Makes A Personal Representative “Unsuitable” For Appointment Under The Uniform Probate Code?

February 14, 2013

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James R. Franta named Roberta Peery as the personal representative of his estate.  But a Minnesota district court determined that she was “unsuitable” for appointment under the Uniform Probate Code.  In In re Estate of James R. Franta, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed.  Why wouldn’t these courts uphold the decedent’s intent?

Trustee Sanctioned For Refusing To Sign Release

February 12, 2013

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We know that very few cases actually end up making it to trial.  Some reports put the number of cases that settle or that are dismissed before trial around 97 percent.  Many of those that settle likely settled as a result of court-ordered mediation.  As fiduciaries find themselves increasingly the target of litigation, here’s a word of caution out of Florida about the scope of releases in settlement agreements and an admonition about knowing exactly what it is you’ve agreed to.

The trustee of the Julian Marie Breslow Revocable Trust and Pompano Masonry Corporation participated in a court-ordered mediation with Joseph Anastasi, they reached a settlement, and they executed a mediation agreement.  As part of that settlement, the Breslow Trust and Pompano agreed that their release of claims against Anastasi extended to Anastasi’s wife and children.

After the settlement was finalized, the trustee

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