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In re Estate of Lee

Washington Supreme Court
299 P.2d 1066 (1956)


Facts

Mrs. Lee’s will created a trust. The will’s eighth clause stated that if any of the will was determined to be invalid due to the rule against perpetuities, the trust would continue for as long as legally permitted. The will directed the trustee to, on the day before the trust’s termination by law in such a scenario, distribute the trust estate to those persons named in the will “who would be entitled to take distribution thereon upon termination of the trust.” The will’s tenth clause stated that if any part of the will was determined to be invalid, the determination would not affect other parts of the will. The will’s fourth clause left a life estate for Lee’s son, Fairman Lee. The parties conceded that this fourth clause was valid. The will’s fifth and sixth clauses left property, upon Fairman’s death, to Lee’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren. These clauses provided for termination of the trust upon all of her grandchildren reaching the age of 40 or dying. The parties conceded that these clauses were void, in violation of the rule against perpetuities. The appellants argued that the eighth clause was invalid because it was not sufficiently definite as to who would receive the distribution. As a result, the appellants claimed that Lee died intestate and her estate should go to Fairman as Lee’s only heir. The trial court disagreed and found that the eighth clause was sufficiently definite to be enforceable. The appellants appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rosellini, J.)

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