Articles Posted in Trusts & Estates

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The probate court did not err in adopting the report of a referee and imposing a constructive trust on Plaintiff’s interests in real property, but remand is necessary for the probate court to enter an appropriate judgment. Plaintiff, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Stephen E. Libby, filed a complaint against her brother. Plaintiff’s brother filed a counterclaim against Plaintiff. A referee concluded that Plaintiff committed constructive fraud and recommended the imposition of a constructive trust on certain real estate. The probate court adopted the referee’s report and ordered judgment “entered in the record.” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the probate court did not err in adopting the referee’s report; but (2) the court’s docket entry did not comply with rules 58 and 79 of the Maine Rules of Probate Procedure regarding the entry of judgment. The court remanded with directions that the probate court enter an appropriate judgment. View "In re Estate of Stephen E. Libby" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the summary judgment entered by the probate court in favor of David Gourevitch, a qualified beneficiary of a 1907 trust, on Gourevitch’s complaint for a declaratory judgment that Maxwell is not a beneficiary of the trust, holding that Gourevitch’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The court additionally held that Gourevitch did not receive the benefit of tolling because he had the full ability to determine why Maxwell was receiving trust income distributions under a circumstance contrary to a certain provision in the trust when he was serving as a trustee but did not commence legal action until twelve years after ending his service as a trustee. View "In re George Parsons 1907 Trust" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the probate court approving, with a modification, the report of a referee for the distribution of the Estate of John W. Gilbert. Judith Gilbert, individually and as personal representative of the estate, appealed, arguing that the probate court erred by appointing a referee and adopting the report of the referee. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for the probate court to conduct an evidentiary hearing as if a referee had never been involved in the matter and for the court to issue a decision detailing the distribution of the estate consistent with the evidence produced at that hearing, holding (1) because the referee failed to conduct a hearing before submitting his report, the probate court’s adoption of any portion of the referee’s report was error; and (2) the involvement of a referee in the matter was misguided. View "In re Estate of John W. Gilbert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the probate court approving, with a modification, the report of a referee for the distribution of the Estate of John W. Gilbert. Judith Gilbert, individually and as personal representative of the estate, appealed, arguing that the probate court erred by appointing a referee and adopting the report of the referee. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the matter for the probate court to conduct an evidentiary hearing as if a referee had never been involved in the matter and for the court to issue a decision detailing the distribution of the estate consistent with the evidence produced at that hearing, holding (1) because the referee failed to conduct a hearing before submitting his report, the probate court’s adoption of any portion of the referee’s report was error; and (2) the involvement of a referee in the matter was misguided. View "In re Estate of John W. Gilbert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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Plaintiff, conservator and guardian for his son Vincent Jones, and Plaintiff’s counsel (Attorney) appealed from two orders issued by the probate court that (1) dissolved and replaced a supplemental needs trust that had been created for Vincent’s estate, and (2) directed the Attorney, who created the original trust, to disgorge legal fees paid to her by Vincent and conditionally to pay additional amounts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the probate court’s order creating a new supplemental needs trust for Vincent was not void for lack of statutory authority; and (2) the payment order against the Attorney deprived the Attorney of due process. View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Jones" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Peter Turcic Sr. died intestate. Peter was survived by his daughter, Patricia Turcic, and his son, Peter Turcic Jr. Patricia was appointed as personal representative of Peter Sr.’s estate. Thereafter, the probate court appointed Melvin and Ronald Christie, Patricia’s uncle and cousin, conservators of Peter Jr. The Christies then requested removal of Patricia as personal representative of the estate. The probate court removed Patricia as representative and appointed attorney J. Michael Talbot as representative of Peter Sr.’s estate. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed because Patricia did not provide a transcript for review and did not file a Me. R. Civ. P. 52 motion for specific factual findings. View "In re Estate of Peter A. Turcic Sr." on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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After William Dean was involuntarily hospitalized, the Department of Health and Human Services was appointed as Dean’s temporary public conservator. Thereafter, the Department sold some of Dean’s property. Dean’s sister, Claire Perry, filed a complaint against the Department and certain state individuals, asserting claims arising out of the Department’s management of Dean’s property during the public conservatorship. Later, Pamela Vose was appointed as Dean’s conservator. Vose filed a cross-claim and then a separate action against the Department, alleging breach of fiduciary duty. The court consolidated the two cases. The Department and the individual state defendants moved for summary judgment, asserting sovereign immunity. The court entered a summary judgment in favor of the defendants on most claims but denied the Department’s motions for summary judgment on Vose’s claim for breach of fiduciary duty in both cases, concluding that the Maine Probate Court waived sovereign immunity and that the Department was subject to suit in tort when acting as a public conservator. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order denying the Department’s motions for summary judgment, holding that the Department is immune from the breach of fiduciary duty claims asserted in these cases because the Probate Code does not expressly waive sovereign immunity and the Department did not waive immunity. View "Perry v. Dean" on Justia Law

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Attorney Susan Thiem represented Ann Thomas, an allegedly incapacitated person, during this action for appointment of a guardian and conservator. During the proceedings, the probate court issued an order imposing sanctions against Thiem based on a finding that she had “unreasonably interfered” with the discovery process. The sanctions order required Thiem to pay reasonable expenses, including attorney fees. Thiem appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion by imposing sanctions. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal as interlocutory without reaching the merits, holding that because the court had not yet quantified the amount of any attorney fees and expenses to be paid by Thiem as a sanction, the sanctions order was not a final judgment suitable for appellate review. View "Conservatorship & Guardianship of Ann B. Thomas" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Emma’s son successfully petitioned to be appointed as the new conservator of Emma’s estate. Thereafter, the son filed an amended inventory of the estate’s assets. In 2014, Emma’s son, as conservator, moved to have financial details regarding the value of the estate removed from the publicly available docket in the case. The probate court denied the motion. The son filed a motion to reconsider and to amend the judgment. While the court had the matter under consideration, the conservator filed a request for the financial information to be removed from the public docket as an accommodation pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The probate court then certified a question to the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court discharged the reported question, holding that the question could not be answered consistent with the Court’s basic function as an appellate court and instead sought an advisory opinion on an issue that may be rendered moot by subsequent decision-making. View "In re Conservatorship of Emma" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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After Barbara Frost died, her half-sister, Nancy Gamash, initiated a will contest, asserting that Frost’s will was a product of undue influence. In conjunction with that contest, Gamash sought a declaratory judgment that a note and mortgage held by Bank of America, N.A. (BANA) encumbering property of Frost’s estate were invalid. The probate court entered summary judgment in favor of BANA, concluding that the note and mortgage, as well as advances on BANA’s mortgage, were valid obligations of Frost’s estate. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment in part and vacated it in part, holding (1) judgment was correctly entered in BANA’s favor as to the validity of the note and mortgage; but (2) summary judgment on the issue of the validity of certain mortgage advances should have been entered in favor of Gamash. View "In re Estate of Frost" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates