Trolan v. TrolanAnnotate this Case
The parents established the trust in 1974 when all of the siblings were minors. Howard predeceased Alice, leaving her as the sole settlor and trustee. In 2003, Alice amended the trust to name all six children, as successor co-trustees, with the power to act by majority vote. Alice died in 2015; the trust became irrevocable. Five siblings, (Appellants) agreed to maintain the assets in trust, hoping they would increase in value for the next generation. The sixth sibling asked for distribution of her share of the trust in cash. The trial court interpreted the trust to require liquidation and distribution of the trust assets upon the death of the last surviving parent, based primarily on a provision requiring distribution to any beneficiary when that beneficiary turned 30 years old. All of the siblings were at least 30 years old. The court of appeal agreed that the trust's unambiguous language requires distribution and termination of the trust, but the trial court erred when it ordered the liquidation of the trust assets to accomplish that purpose, rather than deferring to the discretion of the trustees to distribute the trust. The orders removing the parties as trustees and requiring the trust to pay all attorney fees and costs flowed from that error.