Probate Administration News

Case Summaries

Probate Trusts

[03/28] Pizarro v. Reynoso
In an acrimonious family squabble that erupted over the property of the deceased patriarch and spilled over into the courts, in which the trial court determined the patriarch-settlor appointed defendant was the most reliable and credible of the family members, and that other family members were not credible, the trial court's denial of a petition for relief against defendant concerning the sale of the real property and award of attorney fees to defendant is: 1) reversed as to the award of attorney fees and costs to the extent it imposed personal liability; but 2) otherwise affirmed.

[03/23] Carmack v. Reynolds
In response to a certified question from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, in an underlying bankruptcy case in which a debtor who was to receive money from a family spendthrift trust declared bankruptcy before receiving his first trust payment, and the bankruptcy trustee seeks to determine what interest the bankruptcy estate has in the trust, the Court concludes that a bankruptcy trustee, standing as a hypothetical judgment creditor, can reach a beneficiary's interest in a trust that pays entirely out of principal in two ways: 1) it may reach up to the full amount of any distributions of principal that are currently due and payable to the beneficiary, unless the trust instrument specifies that those distributions are for the beneficiary's support or education and the beneficiary needs those distributions for either purpose; and 2) separately, the bankruptcy trustee can reach up to 25 percent of any anticipated payments made to, or for the benefit of, the beneficiary, reduced to the extent necessary by the support needs of the beneficiary and any dependents.

[03/21] Fiduciary Trust Int'l of California v. Klein
In a longstanding, particularly acrimonious probate matter involving a family trust, challenging a probate court order permitting defendants-appellants, who are the former trustees of this trust, to withhold from the successor trustee and the sole non-contingent trust beneficiary, some, but not all, of a collection of documents identified on a supplemental privilege log submitted by the former trustees under court order, which document were withheld on the basis of attorney-client privilege, the probate court order is afirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded for reconsideration of the privilege status of the Privilege-Upheld documents.

[03/09] Blankenship v. Consolidation Coal Co.
In a dispute arising out of a dewatering operation of defendant's mine into a mine partially owned by plaintiff, asserting state causes of action for trespass, negligence, nuisance, and related torts, alleging that, by filling the plaintiff's mine with water, defendant damaged the plaintiffs' property interests in the mine and unjustly enriched itself, the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on statute of limitations grounds is affirmed over plaintiff's claim that the discovery rule provided by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. sections 9601-9675, preempts Virginia?s statutes of limitations and, as a result, Virginia's statutes of limitations began to run when the plaintiffs knew or should have known of their alleged injury.

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