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Judges rule in favor of bank on request to end trust

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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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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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