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Category: Probate Estate Litigation & Administration

Trust Litigation: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of Trust

Trustees are fiduciaries who must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. To win on a claim of breach of fiduciary duty or trust, a plaintiff needs to prove that there is a (1) fiduciary duty, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation and (4) harm/damages. Matter of Wilma G. James Trust, 487 […]

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Modifying Irrevocable Trusts by Consent

When Missouri updated its trust laws in around 2005, several statutes were added that permitted irrevocable trusts to be modified. An irrevocable trust, as the name suggests, is generally not subject to amendment or change. Most revocable trusts become irrevocable and not subject to change after the settlor/trust-maker dies. The problem is that many irrevocable […]

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Successor Trustee Authority, Release of Liability

The general rule in Missouri is that successor trustees, unless the terms of the trust document say otherwise, possess all of the duties and authority of the initial trustee and/or any predecessor trustee. Therefore, a successor trustee usually possesses all of the “specific powers” of a trustee articulated in Section 456.8-816, RSMo. One of the […]

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Corporate Derivative Shareholder Claims, Beneficiary Trust Claims

With corporations, the directors and officers manage the corporation for the benefit of the shareholders. With trusts, the trustees manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. When a corporate officer/director commits a wrong against the corporation, or causes another injury to the corporation, a shareholder can bring a derivative on behalf of the […]

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Trusts, Principal Place of Administration

Trust litigation can often involve interstate disputes as to what state and county should hear and entertain the litigation. This is because trusts will often involve family members, trustees and beneficiaries who reside in different states. Many states have adopted the Uniform Trust Code as a means of providing more consistent laws on how trusts […]

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Omitted Spouse, Non-probate Transfer

Part of the reason that probate litigation is complex is because there are procedural and substantive differences in how will, trust, joint ownership and non-probate transfer disputes are handled — even though these devices are often used by individuals interchangeably. With wills, pursuant to ยง 474.235, RSMo an “omitted spouse” is granted the right to […]

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Power of Attorney Self-Dealing

An attorney-in-fact acting for a principal under a power of attorney instrument has a legal obligation to act in the principal’s best interests. For this reason, certain powers must be expressly authorized to be valid. Section 404.710.6, RSMo provides, in part, that there must be express written authority in the power of attorney document for […]

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Trustee Removal: Lack of Fitness, Unwillingness

Trustee removal is complex litigation. Missouri has mostly adopted the uniform trust code, which authorizes trustee removal for cause when (among other circumstances) there is “unfitness” or “unwillingness” of a trustee. Most trustee removal claims center on allegations of breach of trust, failure to effectively administer or lack of cooperation among co-trustees. However, “unfitness” and […]

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Incapacity, Business Transactions

Legally, several things happen when someone is adjudicated as incapacitated and a guardian or conservator is appointed for the protectee (i.e., the incapacitated person). Perhaps most significantly, the protectee loses his or her right to enter into business transactions. Instead, it is the conservator’s responsibility (usually with court approval) to enter into such transactions. Section […]

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Additions to Trust, Funding, Lapse

A trust is really only efficacious to the extent assets are titled and owned by the trust. To transfer assets to a trust, there must be a formal conveyance to the trust or trustee of the trust. Certain assets will have to be transferred and re-titled in different ways. With real estate, for instance, there […]

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