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Probate : Estate Plan Changes – Mental Capacity – Undue Influence

(1)Even though a trial court used an incorrect standard to determine the validity of changes made by a woman to her estate plan’s beneficiary designations and property transfers, the error was not prejudicial and substantial evidence supported the court’s judgment that the woman lacked the mental capacity to amend her trust, so the two amendments that favored her husband were void as were her changes to the beneficiary designations and property transfers.

(2)Where a decedent’s nonprobate transfers were made through beneficiary designations on her accounts and pensions, the transfers were a matter of agreement, so they are subject to contract law and thus mental capacity is necessary, and to the extent the Court of Appeals held otherwise in In re Estate of Goldschmidt, it should not be followed.

Judgment is affirmed.

Ivie v. Smith (MLW No. 66616/Case No. SC93872 – 30 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Fischer, J.; all concur) Appealed from circuit court, Scott County, Lewis, J. (Joseph C. Blanton Jr. and Shaun D. Hanschen, Sikeston, for appellants) (Bruce Lawrence and R. Kye Lawrence, Sikeston, for respondents).

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