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Court Reverses Finding of Undue Influence

August 25, 2017

Authors

Doug Stanley

Court Reverses Finding of Undue Influence

August 25, 2017

by: Doug Stanley

Undue influence occurs when a person’s free will is overpowered and replaced by the will of another.  In Missouri, a finding of undue influence generally requires the person who exerted influence to have been in a position of trust, and to have caused the coercion through active conduct.  Although the elements seem fairly straightforward, actually proving undue influence can be much trickier.  Because undue influence is often only demonstrated through circumstantial evidence, the ensuing courtroom testimony provides for a telling tale from lawyers and hairstylists and priests.

In Nestel v. Rohach, three of the four Nestel siblings tried to remove their sister, Melissa, as the personal representative of their mother’s estate.  The siblings claimed that Melissa exercised undue influence over Joanne, their mother, when Joanne made Melissa the beneficiary of several bank accounts containing substantial assets.  At trial, the jury found that there was

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When Do Claims On a Revocable Grantor Trust Go Stale?

May 1, 2014

Authors

Brenda Gonzalez

When Do Claims On a Revocable Grantor Trust Go Stale?

May 1, 2014

by: Brenda Gonzalez

Recently, a Missouri Court of Appeals found that a claim regarding the validity of a revocable grantor trust was time-barred, as the two-year statute of limitations to bring a claim contesting a trust’s validity had passed when the personal representative of an estate brought suit.

In Morris v. Trust Co. of the Ozarks, 2014 WL 947109, at *1 (Mo. Ct. App. Mar. 11, 2014), the Court found that Section 456.6-604 of the Missouri Uniform Trust Code barred a claim seeking to establish that the trust at issue had terminated as a matter of law at the grantor’s death.  Section 456.6-604.1(1) states that “a person may commence a judicial proceeding to contest the validity of a trust that was revocable at the settlor’s death within. . . two years after the settlor’s death. . .”

A revocable trust, also

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Missouri Court Upholds Trust—Farm Remains in Family

February 20, 2014

Authors

Brenda Gonzalez

Missouri Court Upholds Trust—Farm Remains in Family

February 20, 2014

by: Brenda Gonzalez

Maintaining property in a family for generations to come can be tricky.  As the parties in Hoefer v. Musser found out, the intention of a decedent speaks volumes and can overcome procedural deficiencies such as an improper recording of a warranty deed.  In Hoefer, the Missouri Court of Appeals (Southern Division) recently held in favor of a decedent’s wishes to keep a farm in his family for “generations and generations.”  See Hoefer v. Musser, No. SD 32576, 2013 WL 6800823 (Mo. App. S.D. Dec. 23, 2013).

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No Liability for Trust Protector in McLean v. Ponder

January 7, 2014

Authors

Kathy Sherby

No Liability for Trust Protector in McLean v. Ponder

January 7, 2014

by: Kathy Sherby

The Missouri Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in Robert T. McLean Irrevocable Trust v. Ponder,[1] a case involving the question of whether a Trust Protector could be held liable in not exercising the right to remove and replace the Trustees of a special needs Trust.

The Robert T. McLean Irrevocable Trust (the “Trust”) was created with settlement proceeds from Robert McLean’s (“Robert”) personal injury case.  Ponder was appointed “Trust Protector” of the Trust with the right to remove the Trustee and appoint a successor Trustee.  The Trust Protector was also given the right to appoint a successor Trust Protector and to resign as Trust Protector.  The Trust also provided that the “Trust Protector’s authority was conferred in a fiduciary capacity” and that the Trust Protector was not liable for any actions taken “in good faith.”  The

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Missouri Court Determines When Estate Beneficiary Has Standing to Raise Undue Influence Claims

December 23, 2013

Authors

Stephanie Moll

Missouri Court Determines When Estate Beneficiary Has Standing to Raise Undue Influence Claims

December 23, 2013

by: Stephanie Moll

This post originally appeared here on Bryan Cave’s Private Client Service Group blog, TrustBryanCave.com.

With research and drafting assistance from Washington University extern, Kelsey Delong.

In Williams v. Hubbard, et. al., the Missouri Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether a beneficiary of a decedent’s estate would be entitled to funds from the decedent’s account if the payable on death (“POD”) beneficiary or joint owner of the account was found to have procured the beneficiary or ownership interests through undue influence. In this case, the court found that the beneficiary could have rights to some of the decedent’s multiple accounts, but not all of them.

In this case, Betty Margaret Reynolds (“Betty”) hired Respondent Kenneth Nelson to draft several of her estate planning documents, including a beneficiary deed, a 2000 Will, and a 2006 Will. The beneficiary deed named

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Trustee Did Not Breach Fiduciary Duty By Favoring One Beneficiary In Distributions And Investments

October 17, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Trustee Did Not Breach Fiduciary Duty By Favoring One Beneficiary In Distributions And Investments

October 17, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

The words in a trust instrument mean something.  So, too, does the absence of words in the trust instrument.  Therefore, when in a trust instrument a grantor gives a trustee the authority to favor one beneficiary over another, gives broad discretion in making discretionary distributions, does not require the trustee to consider certain information in making discretionary distributions, or permits a concentration of assets, the trustee – and a court – should carefully consider those words.

In O’Riley v. U.S. Bank, N.A., a Missouri appellate court reviewed a situation where a trustee supposedly favored a grantor’s spouse over his children in making discretionary distributions and in investing trust assets.

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Missouri Court Opens the Door to Fiduciary Liability for Non-Trustees

September 12, 2013

Authors

Steve Dawson

Missouri Court Opens the Door to Fiduciary Liability for Non-Trustees

September 12, 2013

by: Steve Dawson

It is hard to imagine how Jean McClure could have breached a fiduciary duty to the Les Galey trust when she was not a trustee and never received any money from the trust.

According to the Missouri Court of Appeals in Brock v. McClure, the saga began when Les Galey died and left over $200,000 in trust for the benefit of his wife, Mary, with Lawrence McClure as the trustee.  After Mary’s death, Lawrence was to distribute four specific bequests totaling $40,000 and divide the remainder equally among Les Galey’s sisters, Bessie Brock and Jean McClure.  Mary Galey died on August 24, 2004.  When no distributions had been made after four years, Bessie Brock and her children sued Lawrence McClure for breach of fiduciary duty.  In addition, Brock named Lawrence’s mother Jean McClure as a defendant claiming that she had purported

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Missouri Court Of Appeals Holds That Attorney-In-Fact Violated Fiduciary Duty

September 4, 2013

Authors

Stephen Daiker and Stephanie Moll

Missouri Court Of Appeals Holds That Attorney-In-Fact Violated Fiduciary Duty

September 4, 2013

by: Stephen Daiker and Stephanie Moll

With research and drafting assistance from Washington University School of Law student, Kelsey DeLong.

In Estate of Lambur, the Missouri Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether an attorney-in-fact is permitted to gift the principal’s property to herself when the gift is not expressly authorized in the power of attorney.

In 2005, Verna Irene Lambur (“Irene”) executed a durable power of attorney naming her nephew’s wife, Anna Stidham (“Anna”), and Jackie Johnson (“Jackie”) as her attorneys-in-fact.  The power of attorney granted Irene’s attorneys-in-fact the following power:

To establish, change or revoke survivorship rights in property or accounts, beneficiary designations for life insurance, IRA and other contracts and plans, and registrations in beneficiary form; to establish ownership of property or accounts in my name with others in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and to exercise any right I have in joint property; to

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Missouri Court Narrowly Construes Ability of Trust Settlor to Create Conditional Trust Amendment

August 22, 2013

Authors

Steve Dawson

Missouri Court Narrowly Construes Ability of Trust Settlor to Create Conditional Trust Amendment

August 22, 2013

by: Steve Dawson

An upcoming vacation, particularly one that involves flying, often encourages individuals to revisit their existing estate planning—or perhaps even to put a new estate plan into place—to ensure that their estate will be disposed of as they wish if they do not return safely.  The worst case scenario people worry about rarely happens.  People return home, carry on with their lives, and their updated estate planning documents continue to be operative.  Yet there is a long history of cases in Missouri (going back to at least 1872) dealing with “conditional” wills and trusts.  A conditional will or trust is one that states that the document has no effect unless a specified condition, such as the failure to return safely from a trip, occurs.

In the most recent case addressing a conditional trust, Rouner v. Wise, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the

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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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