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Estate of Holt

Supreme Court of Hawai’i
857 P.2d 1355 (1993)


Facts

George Holt created a testamentary trust which was directed to last “for as long a period as is legally possible,” and terminate “when the law required it.” The trust income was to be paid to his wife, and upon her death or remarriage, to his “heirs” in equal shares per stirpes. When the trust terminated, the trust estate was to be distributed to the persons entitled to it at that time under the law. Holt died in 1929. A court case in 1957 determined that Holt’s “heirs” at the time of his wife’s death were his eleven children, although for trust income purposes the term “heirs” in the trust referred to all of the people who were Holt’s heirs from time to time as the interest accrued, and not just Holt’s children. In 1991, Bishop Trust Company, Ltd. (the trustee) (plaintiff) petitioned the circuit court for a determination of the trust’s termination date. At that point, twelve of Holt’s 53 living heirs had been living at the time of Holt’s death, all of whom were Holt’s grandchildren. A guardian ad litem was appointed to represent the interests of any unknown or unborn beneficiaries. The circuit court held that the trust would terminate 21 years after the death of the last of Holt’s eleven children, which occurred in 1986, meaning the trust would terminate in 2007. The guardian ad litem appealed, arguing that the trust should terminate 21 years after the death of the last of the twelve grandchildren who were living at the time of Holt’s death.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moon, C.J.)

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