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Karsenty v. Schoukroun

959 A.2d 1147 (2008)

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Karsenty v. Schoukroun

Maryland Court of Appeals

959 A.2d 1147 (2008)

Facts

Gilles Schoukroun was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma. In his last few months, Gilles created a trust and named his daughter from his first marriage, Lauren Schoukroun (defendant), as the beneficiary. Gilles transferred approximately $155,000 from his personal investment accounts into the trust. Gilles also named the trust as the beneficiary of the approximately $275,000 in Gilles’s transfer-on-death retirement accounts. The trust’s terms allowed Gilles to change the trust’s beneficiary or withdraw the trust’s assets at any time while he was alive. Gilles named himself as the initial trustee, and his sister, Maryse Karsenty (defendant), as the successor trustee. Gilles’s will left his personal property to his second wife, Kathleen Schoukroun (plaintiff), and everything else to the trust. Kathleen was also the beneficiary of Gilles’s $200,000 life-insurance policy. After Gilles died, Kathleen elected to take her statutory one-third of his net estate instead of the personal-property gift listed in the will. Kathleen claimed that Gilles’s net estate included all the trust’s assets and the transfer-on-death retirement accounts. The trial court ruled that the trust’s assets were not part of the net estate because Gilles had transferred them before his death and had not transferred them for the purpose of defrauding Kathleen. The appellate court ruled that Gilles’s continued control of the trust’s assets until his death meant that those assets were part of his net estate. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to review the issue.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harrell, J.)

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