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In re Riddell

Court of Appeals of Washington
157 P.3d 888 (2007)


Facts

George and Irene Riddell, parents of Ralph Riddell (plaintiff) created trusts leaving the residue of their estates and life insurance proceeds in trust for the benefit of Ralph and his family. Each of the trusts provided that after Ralph and his wife, Beverly, had died, the trust income would be paid to Ralph and Beverly’s two children, Donald and Nancy until they reached the age of thirty-five, at which point the trusts would terminate and Donald and Nancy would receive the trust assets. After the creation of these trusts, Nancy entered Western State Hospital for treatment of schizophrenia affective disorder and bipolar disorder and was not expected to be able to live independently for the remainder of her life. Since Nancy relied on public financial assistance to pay for her care, distribution of the trust assets to her after her parents’ death would likely be seized by the state to repay her medical costs. To protect the trust assets, Ralph filed a motion with the court to consolidate the trusts and modify the terms to create a special needs trust for Nancy. Ralph argued that George and Irene intended for the trust to terminate when Donald and Nancy were thirty-five years old to ensure they received the assets when they were competent to handle their own financial affairs and they were unaware of Nancy’s condition. The trial court consolidated the trusts but denied Ralph’s motion to establish a special needs trust. The trial court found that the stated purpose of the trust was to provide for the support, maintenance, education and medical care of the beneficiaries and held that a special needs trust, by limiting the availability of funds that may be expended for medical care, did not further the trust purpose as required under the Restatement Third. Ralph appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Penoyar, J.)

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