Wills & Trusts

May 11, 2023

Claims in complaint would not violate no-contest clause

The trial court correctly issued a declaratory judgment that litigation of a trust beneficiary’s claims, which accuse his sister “of obtaining certain gifts from their parents through undue influence or fraud, thereby depleting their parents’ trusts and eroding [the beneficiary’s] inheritance,” would not violate the trust’s no-contest clause. The complaint was fashioned “according to[...]

Apr 10, 2023

No good faith exception to will’s no contest provision

Where the decedent’s will contained a no contest provision, the circuit court correctly declined to adopt a good faith and probable cause exception to enforcing the provision. Background “Helton and his wife Carol were neighbors of Martha and William Stegmaier [the appellees in this case]. Kalle and Butler [Butler is the appellant] are Carol’s grandchildren […]

Apr 3, 2023

Evidence shows that will was not destroyed

A copy of the testator’s will, which disinherited her sons, was properly admitted to probate. The estate’s executor successfully rebutted the presumption that the missing original “was revoked by clear and convincing evidence.” Overview After Lynch-Carbaugh died, Kenney, the estate’s executor, moved to probate a copy of Lynch-Carbaugh’s will, alleging that the original will could [&hel[...]

Feb 4, 2023

Plaintiff lacks standing to sue for undue influence

Where plaintiff was not the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, he lacks standing to sue his sister for undue influence, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty. His fraud claim, however, goes forward. His request for an accounting is granted. Overview Susan Forbes, John B. Forbes and Chip Forbes are heirs to the decedent, […]

Oct 31, 2022

Ambiguity regarding will beneficiaries requires remand

Where the decedent’s will ambiguously identified the beneficiaries, the circuit court erred by concluding that the decedent’s executor was the sole beneficiary. Overview Mark Gabi apparently drafted his own will using a template found on the internet. The will named his brother, appellee Mohamad Nidal Aljabi, as executor. When Gabi died, he was married to […]

Oct 23, 2022

Foreign judgment incorrectly recognized

Although the circuit court correctly admitted a will to probate and appointed an estate administrator, the court incorrectly granted summary judgment to a German charity that was making a claim against the decedent’s brokerage account. Background Towsey, the decedent, had dual citizenship in the United States and Germany. After his death, the circuit court appointed […]

May 9, 2022

Commissioner of accounts properly conducted hearing

The commissioner of accounts properly held a hearing regarding a conservator’s accounting of the decedent’s estate, even though the information prompting the hearing came from a disinterested party. Background Kishna Minor was appointed conservator of Eric Witt Wilder, her incapacitated grandfather. A condition of the appointment required her to post a $1.2 million bond. Wilder […]

Apr 27, 2022

No arbitration of trust dispute

Neither the Virginia Uniform Arbitration Act nor the Federal Arbitration Act compel arbitration of the parties’ trust dispute. Both statutes provide for arbitration of contracts. A trust is not a contract. Moreover, a trust beneficiary is not a party to an arbitration agreement. As a result, a provision in the FAA that requires arbitration, if […]

Dec 20, 2021

Signature requirement to will codicil excused

Even though the testator did not sign a codicil to his will, clear and convincing extrinsic evidence shows that he intended to add to, or change his will. Overview Asmuth, the decedent, signed his will on Oct. 17, 2018. On Oct. 18, he wrote a document purporting to be a codicil to his will. However, […]

Dec 13, 2021

Condo sale before testator’s death adeemed legacies

Where the bequests to certain beneficiaries were to be funded from the sale of the testator’s condominium, the sale of the condominium before the testator’s death adeemed the bequests. The Commissioner of Accounts erred by concluding otherwise. Her recommendation that the executor and a bonding company were liable for a $200,000 judgment is rejected. Overview […]

Nov 1, 2021

Power of attorney bars accounting claim

The circuit court correctly determined appellant was not entitled to a statutory accounting from her brother relating to his management of their father’s financial affairs under a power of attorney. The power of attorney document specifically prohibited such accounting. Further, appellant’s equitable accounting claim “should have been asserted, if at all, in the probate proceeding[.]” [&he[...]

Jun 21, 2021

Brothers correctly removed as co-executors of mother’s estate

The circuit court correctly removed two brothers as co-executors of their mother’s estate and replaced them with a disinterested third party. The “strife and conflict between the brothers[,]” resulting in their inability to agree on even the most trivial matters relating to estate administration, “is extensive and well-documented.” Disagreements Anthony and Irene Galiotos acquired many [[...]

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