August 22nd, 2013
An upcoming vacation, particularly one that involves flying, often encourages individuals to revisit their existing estate planning—or perhaps even to put a new estate plan into place—to ensure that their estate will be disposed of as they wish if they do not return safely. The worst case scenario people worry about rarely happens. People return home, carry on with their lives, and their updated estate planning documents continue to be operative. Yet there is a long history of cases in Missouri (going back to at least 1872) dealing with “conditional” wills and trusts. A conditional will or trust is one that states that the document has no effect unless a specified condition, such as the failure to return safely from a trip, occurs.
In the most recent case addressing a conditional trust, Rouner v. Wise, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District considered whether a decedent’s handwritten amendment to his revocable trust was intended to impose a condition precedent to the effectiveness of the amendment. The Amendment provided, “[i]f you are reading this it means that Jo & I have met our demise either going to or coming back from Phoenix.” (more…)