Probate Jurisdiction nets Ladybird Deed in Will and Trust Contest

By Doug Chalgian on December 22, 2023

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A jury trial was held in a probate court on the validity of the various estate planning documents, including a will, a trust and a ladybird deed.  The jury found that the decedent lacked capacity and that the documents were the product of undue influence.  Accordingly, the trial court entered an order setting aside those documents.

Among the many issues raised on appeal was an argument that the ladybird deed was a non-probate and non-trust conveyance, and accordingly, outside the limited jurisdiction of the probate court.

In affirming the trial court (and the jury’s decision), the COA finds that the while the probate court’s jurisdiction is limited as prescribed by statute; all of EPIC, including the jurisdictional provisions, are to be “construed liberally” so as to “make effective a decedent’s intent in distribution of the decedent’s property.”  That is to say, the probate court had the authority to set it aside the ladybird deed in the context of resolving issues related to the settlement of the decedent’s affairs.

In Estate of Scott; In RE Matthew G. Scott Trust is unpublished (click on the name to read the case).

This is a case from our office – we represented the prevailing party.  The case went on for a loooong time and many of us were involved at one stage or another – but the lion’s share of the credit for this victory goes to Val Kutz-Otway who handled trial and most of the motions.   Congrats to all involved.  Hopefully this puts an end to it.

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mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

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