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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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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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Ambiguous Trusts, Parol Evidence

In interpreting trust documents, you are generally restricted to reviewing only the language and terms of the trust. Indeed, “[a]bsent any ambiguity in the terms of the trust, the intent of the [trust-maker] must be determined from the four corners of the instrument without resort to parol evidence as to the intention.” Kempton v. Dugan, 224 […]

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Fraud Under the Probate Code

Fraud under the probate code is a legal claim in Missouri codified in Section 472.013 RSMo. It states as follows:  Whenever fraud has been perpetrated in connection with any proceeding or in any statement filed under this code, or if fraud is used to avoid or circumvent the provisions or purposes of this code,any person injured […]

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Trust Litigation

Trust litigation is becoming more frequent. This is due to a number of factors, such as changes in trust laws and an ageing segment of the population who created trusts. Another important factor is that the Uniform Trust Code, which has been mostly adopted in Missouri, permits a broad range of individuals to file lawsuits […]

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Equitable Retainer

Trust, estate and probate law has many interesting quirks. An example of this is the equitable retainer doctrine. In short, it is a legal concept which, in practice, reduces the amount of inheritance a heir may receive if the heir had a debt to the deceased. In other words, if you are to inherit money from […]

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Estate Litigation re: Analyzing Transfers in Fraud of Marital Rights

Normally, and subject to the existence of any estate planning documents, a surviving spouse is entitled to a significant portion of a deceased spouse’s estate. The amount which the surviving spouse receives from a default intestate distribution (i.e., one when there is no will or estate plan in place) will largely depend on if there […]

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Confidential/Fiduciary Relationship in an Undue Influence Claim

Undue influence is “influence which by force, coercion, or over-persuasion destroys the free agency of the [individual signing a document].” Tobias v. Korman, 141 S.W.3d 468, 475 (Mo. Ct. App. 2004). If undue influence existed, then the underlying document is void. Undue influence generally is litigated in cases involving the validity of wills, trusts or other […]

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