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Serial Victim Of Fraudulent Lottery Schemes Needed Conservator

February 27, 2012

Authors

Luke Lantta

Serial Victim Of Fraudulent Lottery Schemes Needed Conservator

February 27, 2012

by: Luke Lantta

Guardianship and conservatorship disputes involve extremely sensitive issues and personal information about the ward.  That’s probably why in Georgia, at least, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of appellate authority in this area.  At the probate court level, much of the information is kept under seal.  Once it goes up on appeal, however, that which was once private gets a very public airing.

In a rare appeal of the appointment of a conservator, the Georgia Court of Appeals gave us guidance on the type of circumstances that justify appointment of a conservator.  In In re Cochran, the appellate court considered the case of Sara Cochran who, at 79 years of age, was a serial victim of fraudulent lottery schemes.

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Pennsylvania Court Could Not Assess A Surcharge Against Non-Party Wrongdoer

November 11, 2011

Authors

Luke Lantta

Pennsylvania Court Could Not Assess A Surcharge Against Non-Party Wrongdoer

November 11, 2011

by: Luke Lantta

When individual fiduciaries are found to have breached their fiduciary duties, they are often found to have received some help.  Many times a spouse, lover, or business partner is seen lurking in the wings, aiding and abetting the breach of fiduciary duty.  From an aggrieved beneficiary’s or successor fiduciary’s perspective, it’s imperative to get that joint-wrongdoer brought into court, where he or she can be held to account for the wrongdoing and – if there’s a recovery to be had – reimburse the estate or trust for damages.  In other words, a person cannot be held to account unless he or she is actually a party to the litigation.

In Estate of Brown, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, decided that the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County exceeded its authority when it imposed a surcharge on Kenneth Pearl, who was not a party

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Probate Court Sanctions Against An Attorney Do Not Preclude Disciplinary Proceedings

October 17, 2011

Authors

Luke Lantta

Probate Court Sanctions Against An Attorney Do Not Preclude Disciplinary Proceedings

October 17, 2011

by: Luke Lantta

In a probate court case, attorney Richard S. Weiss was sanctioned by the court.  Weiss was required to resign his appointment as guardian for an elderly woman, required to forgo fees that he claimed to have earned, and required to pay certain sums to the guardianship estate.  Weiss had probably hoped that was the end of the fallout from the conduct that led to the sanctions.  It was not.  The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers had not yet weighed in . . . .

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Estate Beneficiary Prevented From Joining Lawsuit Against Caretaker

October 7, 2011

Authors

Luke Lantta

Estate Beneficiary Prevented From Joining Lawsuit Against Caretaker

October 7, 2011

by: Luke Lantta

As a general rule, the personal representative of a decedent’s estate is usually the only person who can pursue an action to recover estate property.  It’s one of the personal representative’s fiduciary duties to estate beneficiaries.  Occasionally, in very limited circumstances, another person interested in the estate may be able to pursue an action in the personal representative’s place.  The Connecticut Court of Appeals determined that those limited circumstances were not present in Litwin v. Ryan.

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North Carolina Caveator Wins “Close” Undue Influence Case

September 16, 2011

Authors

Luke Lantta

North Carolina Caveator Wins “Close” Undue Influence Case

September 16, 2011

by: Luke Lantta

While it’s still rare for an undue influence case to make it to a jury, it seems that courts have been gradually loosening the requirements to allow more plaintiffs to present their cases to a jury.  Perhaps it’s simply a matter of numbers as more aging Baby Boomers are beginning to succumb to “old age and physical and mental weakness,” which opens the door to an undue influence claim.

Whatever the reasons, we are seeing more appellate decisions involving plaintiffs having won undue influence claims at the trial court level.  Earlier this month, in In the Matter of the Estate of Raney, the North Carolina Court of Appeals considered the appeal of a jury verdict in which a jury – after being presented with a lot of bad and good facts – concluded that the propounder of a will had exerted undue influence over the testatrix.  In light of these mixed

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