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Central Trust Co. of Northern Ohio, N.A. v. Smith
Ohio Supreme Court
553 N.E.2d 265 (1990)
Loretta Smith executed a will establishing a trust split into equal shares for each of her three children: Ralph and Margaret, who both already had children, and Rosemary, who was single without children. The trustee could spend principal and income to support each grandchild, then expend the share of “such child” on a college education. The trust would distribute half a share of principal to each grandchild at 25, then the balance at 30. If Rosemary still had no children when Loretta died, Rosemary would receive her share outright. Ralph adopted another child, Bryan Smith (defendant), after Loretta died. Trustee Central Trust Co. of Northern Ohio (plaintiff) began making distributions when Ralph’s oldest child turned 17, paying for college. Presumably, the trustee also paid out half her share of principal after she turned 25 in 1980. Sometime afterward, Bryan wrote to the trustee claiming trust benefits. The trustee said Bryan was not a beneficiary and petitioned for a declaration whether Bryan was entitled to share in the trust. The probate court concluded the class gift closed when Loretta died, thus excluding Bryan. The appellate court affirmed, reasoning that empowering the trustee to expend the share of “such child” showed intent to close the class of grandchild beneficiaries upon Loretta’s death. Bryan appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)
Dissent (Cacioppo, J.)
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