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Fletcher v. Fletcher
Supreme Court of Virginia
480 S.E.2d (1997)
Elinor Leh Fletcher executed a ten page inter vivos trust to which she later executed a five-page amendment. At Elinor’s death, the amended trust provided for the creation of three separate trusts in the amount of $50,000 each for the respective benefit of her son, James N. Fletcher (plaintiff), and James’ two children, Andrew and Emily Fletcher. Elinor appointed as trustees her other son, Henry L. Fletcher, and F & M Bank-Peoples Trust and Asset Management Group (Trustees) (defendants). After the Trustees took over following Elinor’s death, James requested a copy of the entire amended trust instrument since he was only provided three pages of the document. He also asked to review Schedule A, an attachment to the trust that listed assets transferred to the trust. When the Trustees refused to allow James to review these documents, claiming that Elinor had orally instructed them to keep the trust provisions relating to the separate trusts confidential, James brought an action against the Trustees seeking to compel them to turn over the requested documents. James claimed that refusal to allow him to review the complete trust instrument and related documents prevented him from determining whether the Trustees were adequately protecting his interests or whether there had been a breach of trust. The Trustees defended that they had turned over all information in the trust that related to James and his children, and made regular accountings relevant to their interests. The Trustees filed the trust agreement but not the attachment, Schedule A, under seal for review by the court. The trial court held that James had an “absolute right to complete copies” of the trust, amendment and related documents, including Schedule A. The Trustees appealed, asserting that the creation of separate trusts gave rise to separate fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries and that James had received everything he was entitled to review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Compton, J.)
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