Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dissolving the marriage of Plaintiff and Defendant. On appeal, Plaintiff challenged several financial orders entered by the trial court. In affirming, the Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in (1) determining that Plaintiff did not contribute to the value of a trust created by Defendant’s father in 1983; (2) declining to find Defendant in contempt; (3) failing to consider the value of a trust created in 2011 as a marital asset; and (4) structuring the award of attorney’s fees in the dissolution action. View "Powell-Ferri v. Ferri" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Plaintiffs, the trustees of a trust created by Paul John Ferri, Sr. solely for the benefit of his son, Paul John Ferri, Jr. (Ferri), sought a judgment declaring that they were authorized to decant certain assets from the trust and that Nancy Powell-Ferri, Ferri’s former wife, had no right, title, or interest in those assets. The trial court concluded that Plaintiffs were not allowed to decant the trust because Ferri had a vested irrevocable interest in its assets. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) under Massachusetts trust law, Plaintiffs had authority to decant assets from the trust; (2) the trial court erred in granting attorney’s fees to Powell-Ferri; and (3) the trial court did not err in the remaining issues challenged on appeal. View "Ferri v. Powell-Ferri" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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After the bankruptcy court granted Plaintiff a discharge of her debts, Plaintiff filed this action against the named defendants, alleging misuse of funds of a trust established by her mother. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion to substitute the bankruptcy trustee as the proper plaintiff. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that Plaintiff failed to show that she had brought the action in her own name due to a mistake. The court then dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. While Plaintiff’s appeal was pending, the bankruptcy court granted the bankruptcy trustee’s motion to abandon the underlying cause of action. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal as moot, holding that because the bankruptcy trustee abandoned the underlying action and Plaintiff no longer was seeking to substitute the trustee as party plaintiff, resolution of this claim would afford Plaintiff no practical relief. View "Gladstein v. Goldfield" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff contested the legality of the decedent’s will. Plaintiff then filed a second notice of claim seeking reimbursement of money advanced to the decedent. A number of motions subsequently followed, along with an affidavit filed by Plaintiff indicating his intention to remove the case to the superior court for a jury trial. After a hearing, the probate court concluded that some of the matters were eligible for removal and the remainder were not. Plaintiff later filed a complaint alleging that the probate court lacked jurisdiction over the matters decided at the hearing. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that, as an appeal, it was untimely. Plaintiff argued in response that the action was not an appeal but an action challenging the probate court’s retention of jurisdiction over the case. The trial court rejected Plaintiff’s arguments, concluded that Plaintiff’s action was untimely, and granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly treated the present action as an appeal but incorrectly determined that the appeal was barred by the statute of limitations set forth in Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-186(a). Under the facts of this case, however, the appeal was filed prematurely. View "Connery v. Gieske" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, the beneficiary of a testamentary trust, entered a long-term care facility in 2012, at which time she applied for financial and medical assistance under Medicaid. The Department of Social Services denied the application for Medical benefits, finding that Plaintiff’s assets, including the trust, exceeded the relevant asset limits. A hearing officer upheld the department’s denial. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trust was not an asset available to her as defined by relevant Medicaid regulations. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the testator intended to create a discretionary, supplemental needs trust and, therefore, the trust corpus and income may not be considered to be available to Plaintiff for the purpose of determining eligibility for Medicaid benefits. View "Pikula v. Dep’t of Social Servs." on Justia Law

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Decedent entered into a contract for the sale of a parcel of real property to Buyer. Before entering into the contract, Decedent specifically devised the property to Plaintiff, a church, in his will. After Decedent died, a botanical garden and museum claimed entitlement to the proceeds from the sale of the property by the by the coexecutors of Decedent’s estate, due to a charitable pledge made by Decedent prior to his death. The trial court concluded that title to the property passed to Buyer at the signing of the contract under the doctrine of equitable conversion. The appellate court reversed, concluding that equitable conversion did not apply because Decedent died prior to the fulfillment or expiration of a mortgage contingency clause in the contract. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the mortgage contingency clause did not preclude the application of equitable conversion, and equitable title passed to Buyer at the execution of the contract. View "Southport Congregational Church-United Church of Christ v. Hadley" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Nancy Powell-Ferri (Nancy) filed an action, which was still pending at the time of the present action, for dissolution of her marriage to Paul John Ferri (Paul). After Plaintiffs, the trustees of a 1983 trust created by Paul’s father for the sole benefit of Paul, transferred a substantial portion of the assets in the 1983 trust to a 2011 trust created by Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs instituted this declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that they had validly exercised their authority in transferring the assets and that Nancy had no interest in the trust assets. Nancy filed a cross complaint alleging that Paul had breached his duty to preserve marital assets during the pendency of the marital dissolution action by failing to take affirmative steps to contest the decanting of certain assets from the trust. The trial court granted summary judgment for Paul, concluding that Nancy failed to state a cause of action. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the State does not require a party to a dissolution action to take affirmative steps to recover marital assets taken by a third party without a finding of dissipation. View "Ferri v. Powell-Ferri" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s husband executed a will prior to his marriage to Plaintiff that devised nothing to Plaintiff. After the decedent died, Plaintiff requested that her statutory share be set out. The trial court affirmed in part the judgment of the probate court, concluding (1) the value of the statutory share should be calculated based on the value of the estate as of the date of distribution rather than the value of the estate at the time of the decedent’s death; (2) with respect to the period prior to the date of distribution, Plaintiff was entitled to an average yield of one third of the estate during that time; (3) the probate court properly appointed distributors to set out the statutory share; (4) Plaintiff’s claim to a statutory share was not barred by the doctrines of waiver, estoppel and election of remedies; and (5) the statutory share should be calculated prior to the subtraction of taxes from the value of the estate. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in its judgment. View "Dinan v. Patten" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Plaintiffs and their older brother, Kenneth Stuart, Jr. (Kenneth) were the children of Kenneth Stuart, Sr. (Stuart). When Stuart died, Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that Kenneth, who became an estate fiduciary, unduly influenced Stuart and breached numerous fiduciary duties owed to them as estate beneficiaries. Throughout much of Plaintiffs’ litigation against Kenneth, Kenneth engaged Defendant as a certified public accountant. Ultimately, the trial judge ruled against Kenneth and awarded monetary damages to Stuart’s estate. Plaintiffs then commenced the present action against Defendant alleging that Defendant prepared inaccurate and misleading financial statements that facilitated the misappropriation of estate funds by Kenneth. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Appellate Division reversed in part and remanded. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiffs, in objecting to summary judgment, did not present sufficient counterevidence of their reliance on Defendant’s financial statements or a casual connection between his financial statements and their alleged injuries, as was necessary to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact existed on the counts of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and accounting malpractice. View "Stuart v. Freiberg" on Justia Law

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John McConnell created a trust naming his three children - James McConnell, Kathleen Hewitt, and Amy Sheridan - as beneficiaries. A decade later, Hewitt filed an application for, inter alia, a trust accounting and removal of a trustee. Plaintiffs in error represented Hewitt during the proceedings on the application. The probate court approved a stipulated agreement authorizing certain distributions to Hewitt and Sheridan from the trust. McConnell appealed, claiming that he did not receive notice of the probate proceedings and would not have consented to the terms of the stipulated agreement if he had had the opportunity to participate. The trial court issued an order to show cause why McConnell’s appeal should not be sustained and the probate court’s order vacated. The court ordered the Plaintiffs in error to appear at the hearing on the order to show cause. The plaintiffs in error appeared at the hearing and testified about their involvement in the proceedings before the probate court. Thereafter, the plaintiffs in error filed this writ of error challenging the trial court’s authority to order that they appear in court. The Supreme Court dismissed the writ of error, holding that the trial court’s order was not a final judgment from which a writ of error may be brought. View "McConnell v. McConnell" on Justia Law