Case Conclusion Date: June 2022
Practice Area: Trust & Estate Litigation
Outcome: Trial court found that the decedent was incapacitiated when she purportedly signed a trust amendment on her death bed and ruled that the trust amendment was invalid, void, and of no effect.
Description: We represented the trustee of a decedent's trust in a dispute involving a purported trust amendment. The decedent "signed" the purported amendment the day before her death. At the time, the decedent was in the critical care unit of the hopsital and was suffering from multi-system organ failure caused by massive internal bleeding and hemorrhagic shock. She was sedated with propofol, intubated, and on a ventilator. Her doctors noted, within hours of the purported signing, that she was nonresponsive and that they could not communicate with her. They did not believe she could make medical decisions for herself. At trial, we presented testimony from the decedent's treating physicians and a medical and pharmacological expert, who opined that the decedent could not have understood what she was doing when she purportedly signed the trust amendment. The defendant presented testimony from lay witnesses who saw the decedent on the day of execution and testified that, while she could not speak or write, she shook her head, smilled, chuckled, and squeezed hands in response to their communications. After hearing the evidence, the trial court returned a verdict in our client's favor, finding that the decedent was incapacitated and ruling that the purported trust amendment was invalid, void, and of no effect.