Contempt Order Without Sanction Was Non-Appealable Order.

The trustee of the irrevocable trust of a decedent defended an action in which the beneficiaries alleged that he wrongfully transferred property from the deceased to himself. He then used trust money to pay for his attorney fees. The beneficiaries filed an action seeking an accounting by the trustee. The trustee initially denied any wrongdoing, stating that there were no funds to distribute and that he had defended the prior action in both his personal and fiduciary capacity. The parties reached a settlement agreement under which the trustee agreed to repay $63,000 to the trust, to immediately distribute the $10,000 currently in the trust fund to the beneficiaries, and to repay the remainder by May 31, 2012. On June 1, 2012, the beneficiaries filed a motion seeking to have the trustee held in contempt because he had made no payments to the beneficiaries and his attorney had ignored all communications.  After a hearing, the trial court refused to vacate the settlement order and found the trustee to be in contempt. The court did not, however, issue a sanction, but instead directed the trustee to comply with restated terms or else face a future sanction. On appeal, the court affirmed, finding no abuse of discretion because there was credible evidence that although the trustee suffered from multiple sclerosis, he understood the terms of the settlement agreement and entered into it voluntarily. Because the contempt order did not include a sanction, it was  not appealable under Nebraska law.  In re Morris, No. A-13-313, 2014 Neb. App. LEXIS 115 (Neb. Ct. App. Jun. 24, 2014).

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