Museum will not see any funds from trust, COA affirms

IL file photo

The Court of Appeals of Indiana has affirmed summary judgment and the denial of a museum’s motion for partial summary judgment in matters involving the beneficiary of a marital trust.

Edward Ballard’s mother, Alicia Ballard, had established a revocable trust in 1969, which was amended twice in 1981. The trust was created with Alicia’s husband, Charles, who died in 1987 and left no instructions for the trust.

The first amendment added in 1981 stated a one-time payment of $25,000 would be given to Alicia’s daughter and brother, Stanley Chimiak.

It also was to provide income to Edward and Alicia’s son Chad and their descendants, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art was designated as the beneficiary.

The second amendment directed the trustee to offer to convey certain real estate owned by Alicia to Charles.

Edward and his two siblings were beneficiaries of the trust. The only surviving member of the family is Alicia’s daughter, Sylvia Hurley, and her five children and two grandchildren.

After Edward died in 2020, an issue arose in the matter of the trust.

There was a spendthrift provision that provided periodic income to Edward and, upon his death, any undistributed income was to pass to his descendants.

However, Edward died childless.

There was another provision that stated that upon the death of Alicia’s children, brother and their descendants, any remaining trust assets would be distributed outright to Newfields, formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

This left the current trustee, JPMorgan Chase Bank, at a loss on what to do. It believed the trust was ambiguous as to how the funds were to be distributed, so it petitioned to the trial court for instructions.

Both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The trial court held a hearing at which it considered evidence and ordered the funds to be set aside for Hurley’s children and grandchildren because they are Alicia’s descendants.

It found that Alicia intended the funds to benefit all of her descendants before Newfields was to see any of the funds.

Newfields appealed, claiming the trial court erred in denying its motion for partial summary judgment.

One issue was brought to the appellate court: whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the children and against Newfields.

The appellate court found that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Sylvia’s children and grandchildren.

“It is clear from the terms of the Trust that Alicia’s intent was to: (1) distribute her estate paying the least amount of estate taxes; and (2) provide a benefit to her descendants before Newfields would receive any benefit,” Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote.

The case is Indianapolis Museum of Art, D/B/A Newfields v. Kathleen Hurley, et al., 22A-TR-767

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