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Bongaards v. Millen

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
793 N.E.2d 335 (Ma. 2003)


At the time of Jean Bongaards’ death, she was the life tenant of a trust established by her mother, Josephine. Jean had the power of appointment over the trust remainder as well as the right to terminate the trust during her lifetime and receive the assets free of the trust. Jean never exercised her power to terminate the trust and although Jean’s husband, George (plaintiff) survived her, Jean appointed the remainder of the trust to her sister, Nina (defendant). The trust assets included the apartment building, worth $1.4 million, where George and Jean had lived together. Jean also explicitly disinherited George in her will. George opted to take an elective share of Jean’s estate under G.L. c. 191, §15 and claimed that the trust assets should be included in the estate from which his elective share would be calculated. The case was ultimately appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Sosman, J.)

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