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In re Wulf

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

October 12, 2017

In the Matter of: ROBERT E. WULF, Deceased.
v.
RON WULF, Respondent/Appellant. DEBORA A. BARROW, et al., Petitioners/Appellees,

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. PB2010-070797 The Honorable Frank W. Moskowitz, Judge AFFIRMED.

          Warner Angle Hallam Jackson & Formanek, Jerome K. Elwell, Phillip B. Visnansky Counsel for Respondent/Appellant

          Gorman & Jones, PLC, Andrew P. Gorman Co-Counsel for Petitioners/Appellees

          Padish & Wells, PLLC, James E. Padish Co-Counsel for Petitioners/Appellees

          Judge James P. Beene delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Samuel A. Thumma and Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop joined.

          OPINION

          James P. Beene, Judge

         ¶1 Ron Wulf, trustee for the Wulf Family Support Trust, Wulf Family Trust, and Wulf Irrevocable Trust (collectively, the "Trusts"), appeals the superior court's finding that probable cause supports beneficiaries' Arizona Adult Protective Services Act ("APSA") claim, and thus, did not trigger the in terrorem clauses in the Trusts. Wulf contends that each factual allegation giving rise to a claim challenging an in terrorem clause must be supported by probable cause. Because A.R.S. § 14-2517 requires only that the beneficiaries' claim- and not each of the underlying factual allegations-be supported by probable cause, we affirm.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2 Each of the Trusts contain an in terrorem clause.[1] In October 2013, beneficiaries of the Trusts, Debora Barrow and Kathi Wulf ("Beneficiaries"), petitioned to remove Wulf as trustee. Beneficiaries amended the petition in April 2014 to add an alleged violation of APSA. Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") § 46-456 (2017).[2] Beneficiaries asserted seven factual allegations of financial exploitation in support of their APSA claim:

(1) $200, 000 withdrawn from a bank account, which is unaccounted for;
(2) proceeds from the sale of real property owned by the Trusts amounting to $120, 790.64 are unaccounted for;
(3) $20, 000 withdrawn from a bank account, which is unaccounted for;
(4) A $11, 351.52 purchase and installation of solar panels;
(5) Wulf opened a bank account and added the vulnerable adult ...

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