Probate: HOWELL V. HERALD (SCOKY; 2/23/2006)

HOWELL V. HERALD
WILLS, ESTATES & TRUSTS – Deathbed Gift

2003-SC-000476-DG.pdf
PUBLISHED
REVERSING AND REMANDING (LAMBERT)
DATE: 2/23/2006

John Turner died in 1998, leaving the bulk of his $15 million estate to a Foundation. Prior to death, he had talked with his lawyer about giving some real property to his niece. He decided against it. However, on his deathbed, he had his attorney prepare a power of attorney and then transfer the property to his niece, while reserving a life estate. The deeds were not delivered to the niece and she did not know about the gift. Thus, the issue was whether delivery had occurred. After reviewing Kentucky law and noting the conflicting authority, the Supreme Court concluded that the decedent’s retained life estate indicated the intent to give something—a remainder interest—and that the involvement of a third-party fiduciary (the lawyer serving as attorney-in-fact) satisfied the delivery and related completeness and irrevocability requirements. Thus, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and held for the gift recipient.

 

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