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ESTATE RALPH E. WEEKS (05/31/79)

decided: May 31, 1979.

ESTATE OF RALPH E. WEEKS, DECEASED. APPEAL OF ANN WEEKS WHITE, RALPH E. WEEKS, II AND JOHN W. HARDIE, TRUSTEES


No. 256 January Term, 1977, Appeal from the Decree entered December 20, 1976 by the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, Lackawanna County at No. 902, Year 1950.

COUNSEL

H. R. Van Deusen, Jr., Scranton, for appellant.

Joseph C. Kreder, Henkelman, McMenamin, Kreder & O'Connell, Lawrence M. Ludwig, Scranton, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 485 Pa. Page 331]

OPINION OF THE COURT

By his will, Ralph E. Weeks placed the major portion of his estate in trust for his heirs. He gave to his widow and to each of his children a life interest in the income of the testamentary trust (the issue of any deceased child taking per stirpes) and directed that the trust terminate upon the death of his last surviving child. The principal of the trust was to be distributed per capita to his grandchildren. Weeks died on September 28, 1950. Since then Elizabeth W. M. Weeks (his widow) and John P. Weeks (one of his four children) have died. Testator's three surviving children have each renounced their interest in the income of the testamentary trust.

The first and final account of the trustees and a petition for distribution were called for audit on June 8, 1976. In the petition for distribution, appellants, individual trustees of the Weeks trust, sought to terminate the trust and to accelerate distribution of the trust principal to the remainder beneficiaries, testator's grandchildren. Appellee, the Northeastern Bank of Pennsylvania, in its capacity as institutional trustee, opposed the petition for distribution. It argued that the trust cannot be terminated until the class of remainder beneficiaries is closed and that the class will not be closed until the death of all the settlor's children eliminates the possibility of additional grandchildren.

In its adjudication of September 10, 1976, the Orphans' Court of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, refused to permit accelerated distribution of the trust

[ 485 Pa. Page 332]

    res. The orphans' court held that the "clear intent" of the testator required that this trust continue until the death of all of the settlor's children, and that the court, therefore, could not effect an earlier termination of the trust. Appellants' exceptions to the adjudication were dismissed by the court en banc and the decree of the auditing judge affirmed. We reverse.

The only question before us on appeal is whether testator's surviving children's renunciations accelerate distribution of the trust corpus. The Restatement (Second) of Trusts (1959) makes clear, that

"[t]he mere fact that the settlor has created a trust for successive beneficiaries does not of itself indicate that it was a material purpose of the trust to deprive the beneficiaries of the management of the trust property for the period of the trust. If a trust is created for successive beneficiaries, in the absence of circumstances indicating a further purpose, the inference is that the only purpose of the trust is to give the beneficial interest in the trust property to one beneficiary for a designated period and to preserve the principal for the other beneficiary, and if each ...


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