Peterson v. PetersonAnnotate this Case
In consolidated actions, brothers-appellants Alex and David Peterson claimed, among other things, that their mother, appellee Mary Peterson, and their brother, appellee Calhoun Peterson, had breached their duties as executors of the will of Mary’s husband, Charles Hugh Peterson, and as trustees of a bypass trust created by that will. This appeal stemmed from the superior court’s grant of a motion for summary judgment filed by Mary. Of the many allegations of the complaints, the superior court specifically addressed two of them: one was Alex’s and David’s allegation that Mary and Calhoun, as trustees, had not properly considered the testator’s stated intention “to provide for the proper support and education of my descendants taking into account and consideration any other means of support they or any of them may have to the knowledge of the Trustees.” With regard to this issue, the superior court ruled against Alex and David for two reasons: (1) because Item 21 of the will provided that a decision of the majority of the trustees would be controlling only so long as Mary was one of the majority, Alex and David would be entitled to income under the bypass trust only if Mary approved it; and (2) because of the requirement that Mary be a part of the majority of executors or trustees for one of their decisions to control, because of the benefits granted to Mary under the trusts, and because of her power to appoint trust property, the primary purpose of the trusts was to support Mary, and there was thus “no requirement that income be provided to either [Alex or David].” The Georgia Supreme Court concluded that based on the facts of record, these conclusions did not warrant the grant of summary judgment to Mary. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this matter for further proceedings.