Wills, Trusts & Estates Cases

CaseRuleSubject
Shapira v. Union National BankA testator has the right to attach any condition to her gift, provided the condition is not in violation of law or public policy. (upheld provision requiring decedent's son to marry, within seven years of testator's death, a Jewish girl born of two Jewish parents). A partial restraint on marriage is invalid as unreasonable if a marriage permitted by the restraint is not likely to occur.Freedom of Disposition and the Dead Hand
Shaw Family Archives Ltd. v. CMG Worldwide, Inc.Property not owned by the testator at the time of his death is not subject to disposition by willPosthumously Created Property Rights
Simpson v. CalivasWhen an attorney undertakes to fulfill the testamentary instructions of his client, he realistically and in fact assumes a relationship not only with the client but also with the client's intended beneficiaries. The attorney's actions and omissions will affect the success of the client's testamentary scheme; and thus the possibility of thwarting the testator's wishes immediately becomes foreseeable. Equally foreseeable is the possibility of injury to an intended beneficiary. In some ways, the beneficiary's interests loom greater than those of the client. After the latter's death, a failure in his testamentary scheme works no practical effect except to deprive his intended beneficiaries of the intended bequests. Third-party beneficiary status necessary to trigger this exception exists where the contract is so expressed as to give the promisor reason to know that a benefit to a third party is contemplated by the promisee as one of the motivating causes of his making the contract. Where a client contracts with an attorney to draft a will and the client identifies to whom he wishes his estate to pass, that identified beneficiary may enforce the terms of the contract as a third-party beneficiary. Duties to Intended Beneficiaries
A. v. B. The risk in representing clients with conflicting interests is that a lawyer's divided loyalty will result in less vigorous representation of both clients, and that the lawyer will use confidences of one client to benefit the other. Joint Representation
Hall v. VallandinghamAdoption operates to cause an adoptive child to lose all rights of inheritance from the child's natural parents and their natural collateral and lineal relatives because the adoptive child can now benefit through the adoptive parents and adoption does not confer upon the adopted child more rights and privileges than those possessed by a natural child.Formal Adoption
Minary v. Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust Co.Although rigid adherence to the statutory language would require that
“my then surviving heirs according to the laws of descent and distribution then in force in Kentucky” included the adoptive children of her sons--including her son's wife adopted as an adult by the same son--public policy requires that the testator’s intent not be thwarted.
Adoption of Adults and Wills and Trusts
O’Neal v. WilkesThe first essential element of a contract for adoption is that it be made between persons competent to contract for the disposition of the child.
Some showing of an agreement between the natural and adoptive parents, performance by the natural parents of the child in giving up custody, performance by the child by living in the home of the adoptive parents, partial performance by the foster parents in taking the child into the home and treating it as their child, and the intestacy of the foster parent.
Equitable Adoption
Woodward v. Commissioner of Social SecurityElements to be met:
1. Survivor demonstrates a genetic relationship between the child and the decedent
2. Survivor establishes the decedent’s affirmative consent to posthumous conception and the resultant support of that child.
3. Time limitations may preclude commencing a claim for succession rights. 3 important state interests – best interest of children, orderly administration of estates, and parental reproductive rights
Balancing test: 1) Best interest of kids – legislature taken pains to see that legitimate and illegitimate kids are treated the same; also encourage this technology and have not amended code to exclude these kids.
2) Administration Efficiency – property rights in limbo; encourages litigation.
3) Reproductive rights of parents – requires H’s consent and willingness to support child; while this sperm may have been frozen for one purpose—doesn’t necessarily mean they wanted to posthumously conceive children. *** Texas: Persons Not in Being
-No right of inheritance accrues to any person unless the person is born
before, or is in gestation at, the time of the intestate’s death and survives
for at least 120 hours. A person is:
1. Considered to be in gestation at the time of the intestate’s
death of insemination or implantation occurs at or before the
time of the intestate’s death; and
2. Presumed to be in gestation at the time of the intestate’s
death if the person is born before the 301st day after the death of
the intestate’s death.
Posthumously Conceived Children
In re Estate of MahoneyA killer should not be allowed to benefit from his killing, and therefore a person who unlawfully and intentionally causes the death of a decedent is barred from succeeding to any portion of the estate of the decedent.The Slayer Rule
Stevens v. CasdorphNo will shall be valid unless it be in writing and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction, in such manner as to make it manifest that the name is intended as a signature; and moreover, unless it be wholly in the handwriting of the testator, the signature shall be made or the will acknowledged by him in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, present at the same time; and such witnesses shall subscribe the will in the presence of the testator, and of each other, but no form of attestation shall be necessary.The Strict Complaince Rule
In re Pavlinko’s Estate “Every will, . . . shall be in writing and shall be signed by the testator at the end thereof,”Ad Hoc Relief from Strict Compliance
In re SnideCourts have the power to reform a will or trust, i.e., to add, excise, change or transpose language, if doing so would correct the instrument's failure to state or reflect its creator's intent accurately.Ad Hoc Relief from Strict Compliance
In re Estate of HallThe Harmless Error Rule
In re Probate of Will and Codicil of MacoolThe Harmless Error Rule
In re Estate of Javier CastroThe Harmless Error Rule
In re Kimmel’s EstateDiscerning Testamentary Intent
In re Estate of GonzalezPreprinted Will Forms
In re Estate of KuraltExtrinsic Evidence
Thompson v. RoyallFormality in Revocation by Writing or Physical Act
Harrison v. BirdPresumption of Physical Act Revocation
In re Estate of StokerHarmless Error in Revocation
LaCroix v. SenecalDependent Relative Revocation
In re Estate of RigsbyIntegration [of Components of a Will]
Clark v. GreenhalgeExisting Writings
Keith v. LulofsContracts Not to Revoke a Will
In re Wright’s EstateMental Capacity
Wilson v. LaneMental Capacity
In re Strittmater’s EstateInsane Delusion
Breeden v. StoneInsane Delusion
In re Estate of SharisUndue Influence
In re Will of MosesPresumptions and Burden Shifting in Undue Influence Cases
Lipper v. WeslowPresumptions and Burden Shifting in Undue Influence Cases
Latham v. Father DivineDuress
Schilling v. HerreraTortious Interference with an Expectancy
Mahoney v. GraingerPlain Meaning and No Reformation
In re Estate of ColePlain Meaning and No Reformation
Arnheiter v. ArnheiterAd Hoc Relief for Mistaken Terms
In re Gibbs’ EstateAd Hoc Relief for Mistaken Terms
In re Estate of DukeOpenly Reforming Wills for Mistake
In re Estate of RussellLapsed and Void Devises
Ruotolo v. TietjenWords of Survivorship
Dawson v. YucusClass Gifts
In re Estate of AntonAdemption by Extinction
Jimenez v. LeeCreation of a Trust
Hebrew University Ass’n v. Nye (1961)Declaration of Trust
Hebrew University Ass’n v. Nye (1966)Declaration of Trust
Unthank v. RippsteinTrust Property
Clark v. CampbellThe Beneficiary Principle
In re Searight’s EstatePet and Other Noncharitable Purpose Trusts
In re Estate of FournierOral Inter Vivos Trusts of Personal Property
Olliffe v. WellsSecret Testamentary Trusts and Wills Act
State Street Bank and Trust Co. v. ReiserOral Inter Vivos Trusts of Land and the Statute of Frauds
Clymer v. MayoOral Inter Vivos Trusts of Land and the Statute of Frauds
Cook v. Equitable Life Assurance SocietyLife Insurance
Nunnenman v. Estate of GrubbsSuccession Issues for Pension and Retirement Accounts
Egelhoff v. EgelhoffSuccession Issues for Pension and Retirement Accounts
Varela v. BernacheaMultiple-Party Bank and Brokerage Accounts
In re Estate of KurrelmeyerIn re Estate of Kurrelmeyer
Sullivan v. BurkinThe Elective Share of a Separate Property Surviving Spouse / Nonprobate Property / Judicial Responses
In re Estate of MyersThe Elective Share of a Separate Property Surviving Spouse / Nonprobate Property / Statutory Reform
Reece v. ElliottThe Elective Share of a Separate Property Surviving Spouse / Nonprobate Property / Statutory Reform
Lambeff v. Farmers Co-operative Executors & Trustees Ltd.The Family Maintenance System of the Commonwealth
In re Estate of PrestieSpouse Omitted from Premarital Will
Gray v. GrayUnintentional Disinheritance of a Child
In re Estate of JacksonUnintentional Disinheritance of a Child
Hartman v. HartleThe Duty of Loyalty
In re Gleeson’s WillThe Duty of Loyalty
In re RothkoThe Duty of Loyalty
Marsman v. NascaDiscretionary Distributions
In re Estate of JanesThe Duty to Diversify and Inception Assets
Wood v. U.S. Bank, N.A.The Terms of the Trust
In re HellerThe Principal and Income Problem
Wilson v. WilsonResponding to a Request for Information
Allard v. Pacific National BankAffirmative Disclosure
National Academy of Sciences v. Cambridge Trust Co.Judicial Accountings
Scheffel v. KruegerSpendthrift Trusts
In re Estate of BrownThe Claflin Doctrine
In re RiddellExtension to Dispositive Provisions
Harrell v. BadgerTrust Decanting
Davis v. U.S. Bank National AssociationTrustee Removal
Shenandoah Valley National Bank v. TaylorCharitable Purposes
In re Neher’s WillCy Pres (Illegal, Impossible, or Impracticable)
Smithers v. St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital CenterSettlor Standing

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