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Sears v. Coolidge

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
108 N.E.2d 563 (1952)


Facts

Thomas Coolidge executed a trust. Thomas retained the power to amend the trust, including the power to appoint new or different trust beneficiaries. According to the trust terms, upon Thomas’s death the trust income was to be paid in semi-annual payments to the issue of Thomas’s deceased son and deceased daughter who were living at the time of each payment, and to his then-living children, and after their death to their respective issue. Distribution of the trust principal was to occur either at the death of the last survivor of Thomas’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren living at the time of Thomas’s death, or when the youngest surviving grandchild living at the time of Thomas’s death reached the age of fifty, whichever happened first. The second alternative happened first. The living issue of Thomas’s deceased daughter (plaintiffs) petitioned for a declaration as to the validity of the remainder gifts of principal under the trust. The lower court held that the gifts of principal were invalid, and that upon the trust’s termination the trust principal was to pass to the personal representatives of Thomas’s estate. The petitioners, the trustees of the trust, and several other people appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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