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Virginia Injury & Will Contest Attorneys

Never Saw That Coming: McMurtrie v. McMurtrie 2021

Businessman goes over legal documents with a client

Sometimes, court cases have far-reaching implications that extend beyond just one specific case.

That’s exactly what happened in the McMurtrie v. McMurtrie case that was recently concluded on April 22, 2021. Read on to learn more about the details of the case.

The Case

In the landmark case from Chesterfield County, McMurtrie v. McMurtrie (Record No. 200404), the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a no-contest clause in a trust must be applied to a claim made by the maker of the trust.

In this case, the maker of the trust demanded that the trustees distribute to him all of the trust assets that he previously deposited. The trustees refused and he asked the Court whether his challenge would violate the trust’s no-contest clause. Additionally, he was the sole beneficiary of the trust and argued that the no-contest clause should not apply to him.

The Ruling

The Supreme Court of Virginia disagreed, holding that “a no-contest clause in a trust is strictly enforced and strictly construed according to its terms...under these principles; we enforce the language of a no-contest clause ‘without any wincing on our part concerning its alleged harshness or unfairness.’”

The Court, however, did leave an opening for the maker as a beneficiary, holding that the no-contest clause does not bar him from seeking the removal of the trustees for breaching their fiduciary duties.

Ultimately, if the maker of the trust files a petition under the statute to terminate the trust, the statute allows the circuit court to enter an order modifying or terminating the trust. The maker of the trust also has the opportunity to sue for breach of fiduciary duty, which is under his discretion.

If you have a valid reason to contest your loved one’s will, our lawyers at Obenshain Law Group may be able to help. Give us a call at (540) 318-7360 or fill out an online contact form to get started.