Hamlin v. Hamlin

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Trusts and Estates
  • Date Filed: 06-10-2015
  • Case #: A153464
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Lagesen, P.J. for the Court; Haselton, C.J.; & Edmonds, C.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A trial court may use extrinsic evidence when reforming a decedent’s will when both parties seek reformation before the court, and each party offers a different intention for the will’s reformation.

Defendant (son) appealed a judgment from the trial court ordering that son’s mother’s (mother) will created a trust and designated son as trustee, responsible for holding the family house in trust for the Plaintiff (daughter) and the remaining beneficiaries of mother’s will. Son argued that the trial court erroneously permitted extrinsic evidence in determining that mother’s will intended to create a trust, including conversations between son, daughter, and mother prior to death, and son’s conduct after mother’s death. Mother and son, with daughter’s consent, had agreed to place son’s name on the lease of the house, as well as on mother’s bank accounts, in an attempt to avoid the probate system. When mother died, however, one half undivided interest passed to son, and the other passed to mother’s estate. Daughter, as personal representative of mother’s estate, and son entered into an agreement that son would purchase the house from mother’s estate, as son lived in the area and had been fixing up the house. On review, the Court determined that the trial court properly considered extrinsic evidence because both parties sought reformation of mother’s will, and each party offered a different intent. Furthermore, the Court determined that, based on mother’s action to put son’s name on the bank accounts used for maintenance of the property, mother’s intention was to keep the house in trust for all beneficiaries of the will. Affirmed.

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