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Wilkins v. Lasater
Washington Court of Appeals
733 P.2d 221 (1987)
Nell and Fred Lasater put the family farm into two testamentary trusts that effectively operated as one. The collective trust had three trustees, who were also among the trust’s beneficiaries. A majority of two trustees could make trust decisions. The trust documents stated that the trustees were supposed to farm and manage the land. However, Gary Lasater (defendant) became a trustee and wanted to lease the farm and farm it by himself. The other two trustees, Patsy Wilkins (plaintiff) and Elfred Nunn, agreed to an initial 10-year lease, with the lease-payment amounts contingent on the farm’s crop yield. At the end of the lease, Wilkins objected to renewing it, but Lasater and Nunn voted to renew it for one year. Wilkins sued to terminate the trust and to force Lasater to provide financial documents about his operations under the lease, claiming that Lasater had violated the duty of loyalty by using the trust’s property for his own benefit. Following a dispute about an advance on Wilkins’s trust distribution, the three trustees agreed that Wilkins could have an advance in exchange for extending Lasater’s lease another three years while the case proceeded in court. The court approved this agreement. At trial, Lasater testified that he had not profited from the lease, but he never provided any documents to support his claims. The trial court found that Lasater had not breached his duty of loyalty. Wilkins appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Munson, J.)
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