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Judges rule in favor of bank on request to end trust

February 15, 2013

A beneficiary of a trust couldn’t prove to the Indiana Court of Appeals that the purpose of the trust, created by her mother, was to benefit any grandchildren and because there are no grandchildren, the trust should be terminated.

Sally Jean Kristoff established the Sally Jean Kristoff Trust in 1985 and amended the trust document in 1988. Upon her death in 2000, two separate trusts were created in the names of her daughters, Amy Kristoff and Laurie Ann Kristoff, with each trust funded with an amount equal to the then-existing generation skipping tax exemption.

Amy sought to terminate the Amy Jean Kristoff Trust in November 2010, arguing that the trust was created to benefit her and her sister’s children. Since neither sister had children, these circumstances weren’t forseen by Sally Jean Kristoff and the continuing existence of the trust is impractical and wasteful.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Centier Bank and denied Amy’s request to terminate the trust.

After reading the terms of the trust set up by Kristoff’s mother, the judges rejected Kristoff’s claim that the purpose of the trust was to provide for grandchildren while avoiding consequences of the generation-skipping tax. Tax avoidance was a part of the trust’s purpose, but the main purpose was to provide for the health and welfare of the beneficiaries and his or her dependents, Judge Paul Mathias wrote.

Also, the trust document anticipates that all the assets in the trust may be distributed before the death of the beneficiary, leaving nothing for any children of the beneficiary. The trust doesn’t require that any assets be distributed to Sally Jean Kristoff’s grandchildren.

The judges held that the lack of children by Kristoff and her sister is not an unforeseen circumstance to support the termination of the trust.

“The terms of the trust document are clear and unambiguous, and the primary purpose of the trust was not for the benefit of the beneficiaries’ children. Nor was the beneficiaries’ failure to have children an unforeseen circumstance. Amy has identified no genuine issue of material fact, and the Bank has demonstrated that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” the judge wrote in Amy Jean Kristoff v. Centier Bank, 45A03-1204-TR-186.

 

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