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Caruth v. Otteros (In re Estate of Otteros) - No. 07-1115, 2008 Iowa App. LEXIS 428 (Ct. App. June 25, 2008)

Rule:

Persons seeking to set aside inter vivos transfers bear the burden to establish, by clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence, that the transfers were a product of undue influence.

Facts:

The trustor amended her revocable trust to give her grandson an option to purchase a portion of a farm at less than fair market value. The other beneficiaries claimed that the trustor's amendments to her revocable trust stemmed from her confidential relationship with the grandson, who had provided her with transportation and meals, and provided her assistance when she obtained a hip injury; thus, they sought to set aside any amendments made by the trustor. The grandson filed a petition for declaratory judgment and other relief, which the court granted. The other beneficiaries challenged the decision.

Issue:

Did the amendments in question stem from trustor’s confidential relationship with her grandson?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that no confidential relationship existed between the trustor and her grandson. According to the Court, the record showed that the trustor was of sound mind, understood her business affairs, and had independent legal advice. The Court noted that the other beneficiaries failed to present clear, convincing, and satisfactory proof of a confidential relationship during the relevant time period, and they also failed to prove that the trustor was subject to undue influence from the grandson.

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