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Category: Probate Estate Litigation & Administration

Active Procurement: Undue Influence in Estate Litigation, Challenges

Undue influence is a common legal claim used in probate litigation to set aside, void or challenge a will, trust, deed or non-probate transfer. It is when the influencer substitutes his or her will for the person who is signing the document. Because this is a vague claim, Missouri cases have set forth three elements […]

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Estate Litigation; Time Limit to Appoint Personal Representative/Executor

Missouri’s probate code has two principal goals: (1) provide a speedy method for administering a decedent’s estate and (2) establish a time after which claims are forever barred against an estate. North v. Hawkinson, 324 S.W.2d 733, 736 (Mo. 1959). In furtherance of these objectives, Missouri rigidly applies a general one (1) year limitation period for […]

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Arbitration Waivers

Aribtration clauses are becoming increasingly common as a way to more expeditiously resolve disputes that can arise between parties to a contract. With an arbitration, a neutral, third-party arbitrator decides the case, as opposed to a judge or a jury. Many disputes can arise with respect to the enforceability of an arbitration provision (e.g., unconscionability, […]

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Trust Fraud Challenge

Lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence are the two most common bases for challenging the validity of a revocable living trust. Though rare, however, it is possible to challenge a trust based on fraud. A trust is void to the extents its creation was induced by fraud, duress or undue influence. Section 456.4-406 RSMo. […]

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Supersedeas, Appeal Bonds, Stay of Execution

If someone obtains a favorable verdict and/or a judgment for money against you, and you decide to appeal, is there anything stopping the other side from trying to collect the money judment while the appeal is pending? In Missouri, you may be surprised to know that simply filing an appeal does not legally stop the […]

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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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