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In re Estate of Anderson

Supreme Court of Mississippi
541 So. 2d 423 (Miss. 1989)


Facts

Charles Maurice Anderson died on December 12, 1984, without a spouse or issue. His will left several specific bequests to his nephew Howard W. Davis. The will also transferred several of Anderson’s assets to a trust, to be used for the education of Anderson’s other nephews and nieces for a period of 25 years. After 25 years, the trust assets were to pass to Davis, or to the heirs of his body if he died prior to taking possession. At the time of Anderson’s death, he had 15 nieces and nephews, and two more were born later. The executor of Anderson’s estate petitioned the trial court for a construction of his will. Davis filed a response, arguing that the trust violated the Rule Against Perpetuities because it would last 25 years and did not have a definite time of commencement. Davis then amended his pleadings, asking that the trust’s duration be reduced to 21 years to comply with the Rule Against Perpetuities, and that he be allowed to transfer his remainder interest by last will and testament. The chancery court found that the trust was valid and enforceable, and would last for 25 years or for 21 years after Davis’ death. The chancery court also found that Davis’ remainder interest in the trust property was transferable by conveyance or devise, but that it would pass to the heirs of Davis’ body if he died before the trust ended. Davis then appealed, arguing that (1) the education benefits were a contingent interest that could fail to vest within the period of the Rule Against Perpetuities, and thus were void, (2) the interest created in the heirs of Davis’ body also violated the Rule Against Perpetuities and is void, and (3) the trust has vague, ambiguous or indefinite terms and is therefore void.

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Holding and Reasoning (Robertson, J.)

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