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Category: Probate Estate Litigation & Administration

Trust Litigation & Disputes: Mediation and Arbitration

Because probate, trust and estate litigation is often quite complex and expensive (e.g, breach of trust, trustee removal, trust contests),  many estate planning and drafting attorneys have included provisions to try to avoid or expedite these problems if a dispute arises down the road. An increasingly common way they combat this is by including mandatory […]

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Special Circumstances Exception to Attorney Fees

There are exceptions to the general rule that a party/litigant must cover its attorney fees in litigation regardless of the outcome. The exceptions are when (1) fees are authorized by statute or contract, (2) very unusual circumstances exist so it may be said equity demands a balance of benefits, (3) the fees result from an […]

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Undue Influence in Wills, Trusts, Deeds, Nonprobate Transfers: Factors

Wills, trusts, deeds, and nonprobate transfers (e.g., beneficiary designations, transfer on death or payable on death arrangements) are sometimes challenged on the basis of undue influence. Undue influence is when one individual induces another by “active conduct” to provide a substantial benefit through the transfer of property. Undue influence cases are evaluated on a case-by-case […]

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Precatory Language

In the context of estates and civil litigation, precatory language is language requesting, recommending, or expressing a desire rather than a command. Precatory words can include “wish,” “will,” “will and desire” and “request.” Rouner v. Wise, 446 S.W.3d 242, 256 (Mo. 2014). In Missouri, courts are reluctant to find the existence of a trust when precatory […]

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Challenging Revocable Living Trusts

The time limitation for challenging a revocable living trust is generally two (2) years after the settlor’s (i.e., trust creator) death. This two year period can be shortened in at least a couple of different circumstances, such as if the successor trustee sends a notice to all beneficiaries accelerating the time period to six (6) […]

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Exceptions to Trust Spendthrift Clauses

A spendthrift provision in a trust generally prohibts a creditor from trying to collect a debt  of a beneficiary  by seizing the beneficiary’s interest in a trust to satisfy the debt. These types of clauses are commonly included in trusts because the trust-creator (i.e., “settlor”) wants the trust money and assets to be used for […]

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Spousal Abandonment, Probate Inheritance

Sometimes very unexpected developments can occur in probate litigation. This is largely because there are very unique probate laws in Missouri. For example, a spouse who “abandons” a deceased spouse waives any inheritance interest he or she may have in the deceased spouse’s estate. Specifically, Section 474.140, RSMo provides that:    If any married person […]

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Incapacity in Litigation, Mental Examination

When a party is adjudged legally incapacitated, a guardian or conservator typically represents the incapacitated individual’s interests in legal disputes. In certain circumstances, however, a party is for all intents and purposes incapacitated but a guardianship proceeding has never been commenced and there has not been a judgment of incapacity. And because individuals are generally presumed to […]

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Trustee Good Faith Discretion, Breach of Trust

A trustee has the duty to exercise the requisite care, skill and diligence of a person of ordinary prudence would exercise. Jarvis v. Boatmen’s National Bank of St. Louis, 478 S.W.2d 266, 273 (Mo. 1972). The specific actions necessary to accomplish this goal depends on the nature of the trust, particularly its assets and distribution schemes. […]

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Spendthrift Clause Enforceability in Trusts

A spendthrift clause is a provision in a trust which prohbits a beneficiary’s interest from being assigned and prevents a creditor from attaching that interest. Bruce G Robert QTIP Marital Trust v. Grasson, 332 S.W.3d 248, 256 (Mo. Ct. App. 2010). What this  means is that the beneficiary cannot voluntarily assign out the interest in the […]

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