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Flashcards in Cases Deck (56):

Hodel v. Irving

Native American case. Court overturned law that forbade devising fractional interest in land. Cannot abrogate power of disposition, it is a part of the bundle of sticks. Previously the right to transfer property at death was not viewed as a constitutionally protected right.


Shaw Family Archive v. CMG Worldwide

The post mortem right of publicity. A will can only devise property owned by the testator at the time of death. Marilyn Monroe case.


Shapira v. Union National Bank

Will required sons to marry a Jewish girl whose both parents were Jewish” within 7 years of father’s death. Court found enforcing the condition (1) did not offend a fundamental right to marry in the constitution, and (2) it was only a partial restraint, not a full restraint on marriage. They allowed the provision to stand.


Janus v. Tarasewicz:

Tylenol poisoning case. Husband dies and then wife 48 hours later. Husband had life insurance policy naming wife beneficiary and his mom in the vent his wife predeceased him.


Woodward v. Commissioner of Social Security

Husband undergoing leukemia treatment freezes sperm in worries he would go sterile, and he does shortly thereafter. Wife has children with his sperm and is denied SS surviving children benefits. Court lays out the steps similar to UPC


In Re Martin B

Posthumously concieved child case that says "In dealing with trusts, wills, etc “where a governing instrument is silent, children born of this new biotechnology with the consent of their parent are entitled to the same rights “for all purposes as those of a natural child.”


In re Estate of Mahoney

wife not given money after she was charged with manslaughter of her husband.


Drye v. US

Disclaimed inheritance could be gone after for taxes, Drye's daughter took money and put it in trust that benefitted Drye .
Legal title to the money was in the hands of another, who was not subject to the tax lien of the IRS, But Drye had exercised dominion over it in allowing it to be transferred
Thus it was in fact his property


Astrue v. Capato

Rule/Holding: Federal government looks to state intestacy law to see if federal death benefits can be inherited by posthumously conceived children


Hall v. Vallandingham

Whether kids who had been adopted by their stepfather could inherit via intestacy from their natural uncle.
Rule: Family Law Art. Section:5-308 plainly mandates that adoption be considered ‘”rebirth” into a completely different relationship, and once a child is adopted, the rights of both the natural parents and relatives are terminated


Minary v. citizens fidelity bank

You cannot adopt your spouse and have them be treated as your issue for inheritance of a remote ancestor.


In re Wright's Estate

General capacity -
Witness testified on isolated acts, oddities of testator to say had no capacity.
The legal presumption in favor of sanity. it is the duty of the subscribing witnesses to be satisfied of the testator’s sanity before they subscribe the instrument.


Wilson v. Lane

General capacity -

Alzheimers does not equal lack of capacity if the person was of a clear mind when they chose beneficiaries and when the will was signed.


Breeden v. Stone

Insane Delusion: Rule: To sustain a cause of action, the insane delusion must actually materially affect the will.
Court used insane delusion test and Cunningham test (sound mind) to determine if Breeden was of capacity.


Lipper v. Weslow

Undue influence: Testator had told friends she did not like the relatives she cut out of the will. Thus, there was extrinsic evidence that the will matched her intentions.
Rule: Even where the presumption of undue influence might exist, it may be overcome if independent evidence of testator’s intent matching that in the will exists (such as verbal statements by testator that she didn’t get along with a disinherited party).


Latham v. Father Divine:

Durress - Mary Sheldon Lyon left her estate to defendant, Father Divine, a leader of a religious group. Plaintiffs, the testator’s first cousins sought to have a constructive trust imposed on the defendant’s gift on grounds that the defendant defrauded and unduly influenced Lyon. The plaintiffs claim that Lyon expressed a desire on several occasions to include them as beneficiaries in her will, but the defendants killed the her before the will could be executed. When an heir or devisee under a will prevents the testator from making a will or deed in favor of another, by fraud, duress, or undue influence, such heir or devisee will be deemed a trustee over the gift in favor of the intended beneficiary.


Schilling v. Herrera:

Tortious interference with an expectancy:
The brother, the decedent's only heir-at-law, alleged that the decedent named him in her will as her personal representative and sole beneficiary. She was later hospitalized and, after her release, moved in with the caretaker. Alleged the caretaker used undue influence to convince the decedent to name caretaker as personal representative and sole beneficiary. Caretaker didn’t call brother about death until after will had been executed


In re Groffman:

Strict Compliance
had witnesses sign his will at a dinner party. But the testator had previously signed. Court acknowledged the testators intent was clear, but threw it out because the testator did not sign in front of the witnesses.


Steven v. Cardorph:

Will was signed by various bank employees, some in front of the testator, others not. None of them saw him sign. Court throughout for strict compliance. The dissent argued that there was no evidence of fraud. Coercion, or undue influence and that substantial compliance with will requirements should be enough.


Taylor v. Holt

a man typed out his name in cursive in front of witnesses, printed it out, and they signed. Tenn. Court held that it was OK.


Estate of Morea –

Interested Witness
Two of the three witnesses took under the will. Found a loop hole to allow one of those to take what his share would be through intestacy… making him a disinterested party.


Pavlinko’s Estate –

swapped wills
Ukrainian speakers. Court ruled invalid. Could not use the misdescription doctrine because of specific references (names not brother/husband etc.)


In re Will of Ranney:

curative doctrine
will declared invalid after a witness signed the avidavit instead of the will. UPC 2-504 would allow one attestation to apply to both (only a minority of jdx adopted.)


In re Estate of Hall:

Halls signed a draft on the advice of their attorney that it would act as a will until the final version was signed. Destroeyd all previous wills. Montana Ct. applied the “harmless error” doctrine finding a clear intent of the testator.


Kimmel’s Estate:

Holographic will
(PA 1924) A letter containing many spelling errors and discussing family matters and the weather, but at the end described valuable papers to go to specific individuals. It was only signed ‘father.’ Found to be a holographic will.


Estate of Gonzalez:

testamentary intent
filled out a commercial will form.; Showed it to family, but told them he was going to write it cleanly on a second will form. They signed the second will form as witnesses, and he died before filling out the second form. The court allowed the printed words to be incorporated in intent analysis and ruled it a valid holographic will. (UPC approach)


In re Estate of Kuralt.

Kauralt handwrote a letter to his mistress saying “I’ll have a lawyer visit the hospital to be sure you inherit the place in Montana’ Court focused on the word inherit and the desire to honor testator’s intent. Found to be a holographic codicil.


Thompson v. Royall:

Revocation by writing
wrote null and void on will (to keep as memento), and signed it in front of lawyer and witness. Not considered revoked by court because the writing did not constitute a new will.


In re Estate of Stoker

Revocation by writing
Guy peed all over will #1 and then hand wrote will #2.
Issue: Can a handwritten document not properly executed be considered valid if it can be shown to reflect the testator’s will?
Rule: So long as there is evidence to show the decedent intended the document to be his last will and testament, it may be validly treated as such. (Harmless Error Rule)


Harrison v. Bird

duplicate wills.
Testator called and said she wanted to revoke. Attorney tore up the will in front of a witness and sent it to her. Court found that act did not revoke all other wills (but because the torn up will was the only one that could be found, the will was revoked by presumption)


Pope v. Garrett

Innocent heirs who benefit from duress are also barred from collecting.


In re Estate of Rigsby

Husband found holographic will in drawer. One page was clear about intent but other page was not attached, did not reference the second page, and the second page contradicted the first
In regard to holographic wills that consist of more than one page, it must be clearly apparent that the testator intended all pages should constitute the testators last will and testament.


Clark v. Greenhagle

Nesmith reserved right in will to make further disposition of property by memorandum, but executor refused to comply with one of bequests written in notebook. A properly executed will may incorporate by reference into its provisions any document or paper not so executed and witnessed if it was in existence at the time of execution of the will and is identified by clear and satisfactory proof and the paper referred therein.


Keith v. Lulofs:

mirror wills from H & W to leave property to each other and children from past marriages were equal beneficiaries. W removed H's son after his death. The mirror wills should be considered a contract as consideration is sufficient, provided there is clear and convincing evidence that the parties intended to create a contract.


Fleming v. Morrison:

admissibility of extrinsic evidence
Francis butterfeld executed a document that purported to be his will that would leave everything Fleming. But he told his attorney that the will was fake and only using it to get Fleming to sleep with him. Statement was allowed in because it showed he lacked testamentary intent.


Mahoney v granger:

plain meaning
testator wanted to leave her residuary clause to her 25 first cousins, who she believed to be her closest heirs. In the will, sued the term “heirs at law” which turned out to be her aunt. Court wouldn’t allow extrinsic evidence because “heirs at law” is not an ambiguous term.


Arnheiter v. Arnheiter:

Misdescription doctrine.
directed executor to sell interest in 304 Harrison ave property, when in fact she owned a share of 317 Harrison Ave. less essential particulars were eliminated leaving a resulting description that is clearly accurate.


In re Gibb’s Estate (1961)

admissibility of extrinsic evidence. Robert J. Krause, versus Robert W. Krause. When minor details are at issue, (like initials and street addresses) the court should admit extrinsic evidence. Like the Modern trend


In re Estate of Herceg

admissibility of extrinsic evidence

Residuary Clause only stated that the residuary part of the estate should be given but not to who. prior wills said her nephew and drafter of the will admitted he accidentally left it out of this draft. an unambiguous will may be reformed it is can be established by clear and convincing evidence (1) that a mistake of law or fact affected the terms of the document, and (2) what the specific intent of the donor was.


Estate of Russell:

Left everything I own real and personal to Chester and Roxy. Roxy was a dog, so the gift failed. “No residue of a residue” (common law) applied and Rox’s portion went to intestacy.


Ruotolo v. Tietjen

anti lapse

To Hazel Brennan if she survives me. Question is if “if she survives me” constitutes an express contrary intent to the application of the anti-lapse.


Dawson v. Yucus:

statement that the testator wanted her interest in a farm to revert back to her husbands side of the family. Left to 2 nephews by name in will. Question of if it is a class gift, court said no. A testator is deemed to be group minded if she uses terms like "my nephews." Here, she named specifically.


Farkas v. williams:

Trusts/level of pwer
Even though the settlor retains the power to revoke the trust and appoints himself as trustee, if the benficiary obtains any interest in the trust before the settlor dies, a valid inter vivos trust may have been formed.


Moon v. Lesikar

Settlor sold some stock shares at a reduced price, and a contingent beneficiary of the trust challenged for breach of fiduciary duty: A contingent beneficiary of a revocable trust has no legally enforceable interest while the settlor of the trust is alive and the trust remains revocable.


Patterson v Patterson:

amended the trust even thoug hthe trust laid out no mechanism for doing so (partially revoked the trust). Modern trend. When the instrument is silent, the settlor may amend/revoke as they see fit.


State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Reiser:

Where a person places property in trust and reserves the right to amend and revoke and direct disposition of principal and income, the settlor's creditors, after his death, may reach all assets of the trust subjected to those powers


Clymer v. Mayo

A state statute that terminates a spouse's interest in another spouses will also applies to a revocable pout-over trust that is funded entirely by the will of the deceased spouse.


Unthank v. Rippstein

Donor wrote a note to the donee saying he would make him payments and would bind the donor’s estate to continue doing so.
A promise to make a gift is not a declaration of a trust.


Clark v. Campbell :

A settlor left certain property in trust to “my friends, as they, my trustees, shall select.”


In re Searight’s Estate:

a will and gave his dog Trixie to Hand and gave Hand $1,000 for the purpose of taking care of the dog.
She was instructed to use 75 cents of the $1,000 per day for the dog. The value of Trixie was $5.00. Hand accepted Trixie and the $1,000 to care for her.

A valid honorary trust may exist where the donor gives another a dog for the purpose of caring for the dog.

A gift of a dog is a proper honorary trust because the donor expressed a desire that the beneficiary care for


Jiminez v. lee:

money for education. Intent in trust by grandmother, even though she didn't use specific language.


Hebrew University assn v. nye

failure of trust - Yahuda owned an extensive library that she promised to give to a university in Jerusalem, but never delivered before her death. An imperfect gift due to lack of delivery may not be turned into a trust without an express manifestation of intent (But on remand, found to be a constructive gift).


Scheffel v. Krueger

A beneficiary of a support trust was found liable for several sexual assault charges and also faced criminal charges for sexually assaulting his own son. The plaintiff in the civil sexual assault charge case (mother of the child assaulted) sought to attach the defendant’s interest in the trust to satisfy the judgment of $551,286.25. Rule: A statute that bars creditors from claiming an interest to a beneficiary’s trust does not make an exception for tort creditors.


In re Estate of Brown

• Brown created a trust to be used for the education of the children of his nephew, Woolson S. Brown. After the accomplishment of the educational trust purpose, Brown directed the income of the trust to be used for the care, maintenance, and welfare of his nephew Woolson S. Brown and his wife Rosemary Brown, so that they would be able to live in the style and manner to which they were accustomed.

A support trust is created where the trustee is directed to spend trust income or principal for the benefit of an individual, but only to the extent necessary to support the individual. An active trust may not be terminated, even with the consent of all the beneficiaries, if a material purpose of the settlor remains to be accomplished.


In re Riddell

The trustee's parents established trusts for the benefit of the trustee, his wife, and the settlors' grandchildren. The trusts provided that the grandchildren would receive the benefits until the age of 35 when the trusts would terminate and the trustee would distribute the principal to the grandchildren. The trustee's daughter suffered from schizophrenia affective disorder and bipolar disorder; she was not expected to live independently for the remainder of her life.

To consider changing the terms of the trust, there must be evidence both that material circumstances not anticipated by the settlor have changed and that the will of the settlor may be jeopardized.


Ladysmith Rescue Squad v. Newlin

Trustees and fire house wanted to end trust early. A desire to collect now rather than later on a trust is not a material difference unanticipated by a settlor which calls for modification of the trust so as to serve its purpose.