Meiri v. Shamtoubi

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Justia Opinion Summary

Defendant was a beneficiary and trustee of a family trust. In 2018, Defendant provided Plaintiff, Defendant's daughter, and the other remainder beneficiaries with a notice stating: "[y]ou may not bring an action to contest the Trust more than 120 days from the date this notification by the trustee is served upon you." Approximately 230 days after Plaintiff received this notice, she filed a petition seeking to invalidate a previous amendment to the trust. Defendant, citing a no-contest clause contained in the trust instrument, claimed that Plaintiff's litigation resulted in her disinheritance. The trial court agreed and Plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court. The court rejected Plaintiff's claim that untimely litigation does not constitute a "direct contest without probable cause." More specifically, Plaintiff argued that the fact her litigation was untimely does not automatically render it unsupported by probable cause, and that the court should review the merits of her challenge. The court explained that Plaintiff's litigation was a "direct contest" and that, solely because it was untimely, it lacked probable cause.

Primary Holding
The Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court's finding that Plaintiff's untimely challenge to the amendment of a family trust constituted a "direct contest without probable cause," triggering the no-contest clause contained in the trust.

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