Trolan v. Trolan sheds light on a not so uncommon situation involving siblings and trust distributions. Lets get into the facts to see if Trolan v. Trolan is a case you need to be aware of.
Dad and Mom are parents to 6 lovely children. In 1974, they do the right thing and execute a trust that leaves everything equally to the six kids. When they pass, the kids become co-trustees with the ability act with a majority. As is wont to happen, one of the children, Nellie, wished to cash out her settlement while the other five siblings wanted to leave their share in the trust for posterity
The majority of siblings went to court to ask them to determine the value of Nellie’s share and to let them keep their shares of the inheritance in the trust. You see there was a clause in the trust that let all the co-trustees hold the trust property. Nellie disagreed with all of it. She said that her siblings were not supposed to hold the property and that the entire trust was to be distributed based upon a more specific clause that instructed distribution upon their parents death as long as the children were over the age of 30.
The courts decide Trolan v. Trolan
The court agreed with Nellie. They kicked the siblings out of their position as trustees, appointed a fiduciary, and ordered the assets liquidated and distributed amongst the siblings. Of course, the other five siblings appealed. Here is where it gets good in Trolan v. Trolan. The appellate court agreed with Nellie that she could get her distribution if she wanted. What they disagreed on was the liquidation of the rest of the assets. The court noted that there were all sorts of ways of making an in-kind distribution. They also said that the siblings should not have lost their role as trustees.
In this instance, involving wills and trusts, both parties received some of what they sought. Nellie retained the distribution and, although the rest of the siblings had to distribute the rest of their assets, they retained trustee status and the power to decide how that was to be accomplished.