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In re Estate of Brown

Vermont Supreme Court
528 A.2d 752 (1987)

In re Estate of Brown


Andrew J. Brown left his entire estate in trust, providing that the trust assets be applied to the education of the children of his nephew, Woolson Brown (plaintiff). The trust further provided that when that educational purpose had been accomplished, the Trustee was to distribute the income and as much of the principal that the trustee (defendant) deemed necessary to support Woolson and his wife, Rosemary (plaintiff), “in the style and manner to which they are accustomed, for and during the remainder of their natural lives.” After Woolson and Rosemary’s deaths, the trust would terminate and be distributed to their children in equal shares. When Woolson’s children had completed their educations, the trustee began to distribute the trust principal and income to Woolson and Rosemary consistent with the terms of the trust. Woolson and Rosemary then petitioned to terminate the trust, claiming that to accomplish the only remaining purpose of the trust – to support them in the manner to which they are accustomed – distribution of all of the trust assets was necessary. Woolson and Rosemary’s children, the remaindermen, all consented to distribution of the trust assets to their parents. The probate court denied the petition. Woolson and Rosemary appealed to the Superior Court, which reversed the probate court holding that the trust could be terminated because the educational purpose of the trust had been accomplished. The trustee appealed, arguing that the trust could not be terminated because it was a both a support trust and a spendthrift trust.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, J.)

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