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How Much Information About A Trust Must Be Disclosed In A Divorce?

October 1, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

How Much Information About A Trust Must Be Disclosed In A Divorce?

October 1, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

Trusts often lurk in the background of divorces.  Sometimes they take center stage.  But trusts can cast a wide net, and the trust instrument and financial details concerning the trust may reveal private financial information about persons other than the divorcing spouses.  Why should a likely aggrieved and antagonistic soon-to-be ex-spouse get the whole thing?  If challenged, they probably shouldn’t.  That’s what a California appellate court decided in In re Marriage of Williamson.

The husband was blessed by birth to be born into a wealthy family.  Consequently, he was a beneficiary of a trust that was, in turn, one of a dozen and a half sub-trusts under another trust.  He received annual income from the one trust, but was not a beneficiary of any other trust or sub-trust.  The wife served subpoenas requesting documents from the various family trusts.

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When Can A Replaced Executor Challenge A Will?

June 24, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

When Can A Replaced Executor Challenge A Will?

June 24, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

The world of people who can challenge a will has its limits.  A person challenging a will must have some recognizable “interest” in the will, and while the definition and scope of that “interest” may vary by jurisdiction, a property right that would be affected by a will contest is often sufficient.  In other words, if setting aside the subsequent will would put money in your pocket, then you likely have standing to challenge that will.  But what about someone with no pecuniary interest in the estate, like a replaced executor?  In Estate of Sobol, a California appellate court recently construed the scope of that “interest” under California law.

Here, the court dealt with a scenario in which Sonia Sobol executed a will that named Jay Rose as her executor.  Sonia later executed a codicil

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California Appellate Court Rules That Trust Arbitration Provision Was Unenforceable

March 25, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

California Appellate Court Rules That Trust Arbitration Provision Was Unenforceable

March 25, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

Mandatory arbitration provisions in trusts are a relatively new concept, and only now are courts really beginning to weigh in on their enforceability.  In McArthur v. McArthur, add the First District Court of Appeal of California to the list of courts that have now considered the issue.  It determined that an arbitration provision in the inter vivos trust of Frances E. McArthur was unenforceable as against a trust beneficiary who brought suit to invalidate an amendment to the trust based on undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.

Let’s start with the provision.  In 2011, Frances amended her 2001 trust to give a greater portion of the property to one of her daughters and to add a “Christian Dispute Resolution” provision that required mediation and, if necessary,

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Iowa Weighs In On Fiduciary Duty To Account To Beneficiaries Of Revocable Trusts

February 4, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Iowa Weighs In On Fiduciary Duty To Account To Beneficiaries Of Revocable Trusts

February 4, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

There is a surprising but growing split of authority on the extent of fiduciary duties a trustee owes to beneficiaries of a revocable trust other than the settlor.  Remarkably, state appellate courts are dealing with these issues for the first time now.  We previously took a look at this issue when a Missouri appellate court ruled in In re Stephen M. Gunther Revocable Living Trust that “[b]ecause the trustee owed no duty to the beneficiaries prior to the settlor’s death, they are not entitled to an accounting of trust transactions prior to that date.”  In ruling this way, Missouri joined other states, such as Louisiana, in reaching this conclusion.  We also looked at an Arizona appellate court apply Michigan law to reach the same conclusion.  Seemed to make sense.

But, in late 2012, a closely

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