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Beware The Constructive Trust When Relying On ‘Informal’ Estate Distributions

April 6, 2017

Authors

Luke Lantta

Beware The Constructive Trust When Relying On ‘Informal’ Estate Distributions

April 6, 2017

by: Luke Lantta

We like when families can work out their estate disputes outside of the courtroom.  Georgia, for one, embraces the “family settlement doctrine,” where heirs at law can agree to distribute or divide property devised under a will, in lieu of that manner provided by the will.  So, too, families often want to ‘avoid probate’ and ‘informally’ distribute the estate.  As the Georgia Court of Appeals reminded us in Maxey v. Sapp, that’s all well and good until someone doesn’t get what they want or what they thought they were getting.

The Sapps executed a joint will providing that when one of them died the survivor would inherit the other’s property. After the survivor’s death, the remainder of the estate was to be devised and bequeathed to

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The Family Settlement Doctrine Is Alive And Well

August 7, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

The Family Settlement Doctrine Is Alive And Well

August 7, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

The testator’s intent as set out in a will is usually sacrosanct.  Key emphasis on “usually.”  Assuming that the will isn’t invalid for any number of reasons such as incapacity, undue influence, fraud, etc., the property should be distributed according to the testator’s intent.  But, sometimes family members disagree with how the testator wanted to devise the property, and – shockingly – sometimes family members can even agree to an alternate division of property.  Why shouldn’t such an agreement be enforceable?  Well, in many jurisdictions it is under the family settlement doctrine.

The family settlement doctrine is a doctrine that allows the heirs of an estate to come up with a valid, enforceable agreement to deviate from the terms of a will when it comes to the distribution of division of property.  Here’s how Read More

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