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Clymer v. Mayo

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
473 N.E.2d 1084 (1985)



In 1973, Clara Mayo executed a revocable trust and a new will directing that most of her estate pour over into her revocable trust. Clara designated James (defendant), her husband at the time, as life beneficiary of the trust, with her nieces and nephews receiving remainder interests until the youngest reached 30 years of age, after which the assets were to be distributed to Boston University (B.U.), where she was employed as a professor, and Clark University. In order to direct the disposition of all of her assets through the revocable trust, Clara named the trustees of her revocable trust as beneficiaries of her B.U. group life insurance policy and her B.U. retirement plans. Previously, Clara had designated James as beneficiary of her B.U. life insurance policy and her B.U. retirement plans. After Clara and James divorced in 1978, Clara changed the beneficiary of her life insurance policy to Marianne LaFrance. However, Clara did not change the beneficiary of the trust, which remained designated as James. Clara did not fund the trust while she was alive. When Clara died, her parents were her only heirs and they stood to inherit Clara’s intestate estate if her trust was declared invalid. If the trust was found to be valid, a question arose as to whether the designation of James was revoked by the Massachusetts statute, G.L. c. 191, § 9, under which bequests in a will to a former spouse are automatically revoked. The case was ultimately appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Hennessey, C.J.)

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