In Michaud v. Forcier, Case No. 09-P-392, 2010 Mass. App. LEXIS 1296 (Oct. 5, 2010), the Appeals Court affirmed a decision of the probate court reforming the schedule of beneficiaries of a nominee trust and ordering the repayment of funds withdrawn from a joint account.
The decedent, who had a daughter and two grandchildren, placed her real estate (about 28 acres) in the nominee trust, under the terms of which the decedent retained a life estate and her daughter and two grandchildren were given equal shares as remainder beneficiaries. After establishing the trust, however, the decedent conveyed nearly half of the real estate (13.56 acres) to her daughter for nominal consideration. In order to effectuate this conveyance, the daughter had hired a lawyer and arranged for the co-trustee of the trust other than the decedent to resign, thereby allowing the decedent to sign the deed as sole trustee. The deed falsely recited that all of the beneficiaries of the trust consented to the conveyance. In truth, the other beneficiaries did not consent. They were not even aware of the trust. The daughter was the only beneficiary who was aware of the trust, and she was the person who fabricated the recitation of consent on the deed.
Following the conveyance, the decedent stated on two separate occasions that she intended the conveyance to be in lieu of any inheritance to the daughter, and so the daughter was instructed to assist the decedent in amending her estate plan. She never did so.
When the decedent died in 2005, the daughter filed a complaint in equity requesting termination of the trust. The two grandchildren counterclaimed, seeking reformation of the schedule of beneficiaries of the trust and the recovery of funds from a joint account in the names of the decedent and the daughter. The daughter emptied the account shortly after the decedent's death.
The court found that the daughter stood in a fiduciary relationship with the decedent, who relied on the daughter, and that the daughter breached her fiduciary duty by arranging for the conveyance of the real estate without disclosing the trust or its terms to the other beneficiaries, all to the benefit of the daughter. As a result of the breach, the court exercised its equitable power to reform the schedule of beneficiaries of the trust to eliminate the daughter as a beneficiary. The court also found that the joint account in the names of the decedent and the daughter was for convenience only, and ordered the daughter to repay the funds that she had withdrawn.
On November 9, Peter M. Shapland, chair of Day Pitney’s Trust Services and Fiduciary Compliance practice group and chair of the firm’s Trust Oversight Committee, served as a panelist at the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Sixth Annual Probate Law Conference held in Norwood, MA.
On October 10, Tiana Gianopulos will be a panelist at the Business and Professional Women's Success Series breakfast, presented by the Town and County Club in Hartford, CT.
On June 14, Angela Titus McEwan will be speaking on Estate Planning at a Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC) Financial Literacy Seminar at CarePoint MSO in Jersey City, NJ.
Jay Kauffman and Paul Marino authored an article, "How Florida Affirmed Fiduciaries' Lawyer-Client Privilege," published by Law360.
Day Pitney partner Angela Titus McEwan authored an article, “Recent Cases Address Undue Influence in Will Contests,” published by the New Jersey Law Journal.
Gary Betensky and Michael Napoleone were featured in a profile, "Day Pitney LLP: Firm Expands to Better Serve South Florida Clients," published in the March issue of The Boca Raton Observer magazine.
Day Pitney Press Release
Day Pitney associate Darian Butcher has been elected as Vice President of the Board of Directors of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
Day Pitney Press Release
Day Pitney associate Darian Butcher has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (FBA).