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Mesler v. Holly
Florida District Court of Appeal
318 So. 2d 530 (1975)
Frederick Way created an inter vivos trust and named himself and Elaine Holly (defendant) as cotrustees. Way and Holly were also the trust’s beneficiaries for the rest of their lives. After both Way and Holly died, the trust’s remaining assets would go to Way’s great-grandchildren (plaintiffs). However, while Holly was alive, the declaration of trust stated that the trustees had “absolute discretion” to spend the trust’s principal and income as necessary to maintain the standard of living to which Holly was accustomed. Two years later, Way died, and his residuary estate was placed into the trust. O. Ray Gussler (defendant) replaced Way as Holly’s cotrustee, but Holly performed most of the trust’s management. Way’s great-grandchildren sued Holly and Gussler for violating their duties as trustees to protect the trust’s assets for the trust’s remaindermen, i.e., the great-grandchildren. Specifically, the great-grandchildren claimed that Holly and Gussler had distributed more of the trust’s principal to Holly than was necessary to maintain the lifestyle that Holly had when the trust was created. The trial court found that the trust’s grant of absolute discretion meant that Holly and Gussler had no duty to spend the trust’s assets reasonably or to try to save any assets for the trust’s remaindermen. Because Holly and Gussler had no duties that they could have breached, the trial court dismissed the case. The great-grandchildren appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McNulty, C.J.)
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