Law School Case Brief
Clymer v. Mayo - 393 Mass. 754, 473 N.E.2d 1084 (1985)
The intent of the testator governs the interpretation of his will. Mass Gen. Laws ch. 191, § 1A. It is equally well established that a court ascertains the intention of the testator from the whole instrument, attributing due weight to all its language, considered in the light of the circumstances known to him at the time of its execution and to give effect to that intent unless some positive rule of law forbids.
At the time she executed her will and an inter vivos trust, the decedent and her ex-husband were still married. The will provided for two trusts. Trust A was a marital reduction trust in favor of her spouse. Trust B was a pour-over trust, which granted a life interest to her spouse, with the remainder for appellees, niece and nephews, until they reached age 30 when the trust would terminate. When that happened, the remaining assets were to be divided between the two universities. The couple divorced.
Does the divorce automatically revoke the trust made by the decedent to her ex husband?
The court held that: (1) the decedent established a valid trust under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 203, § 3B; (2) the ex-husband's beneficial interest in Trust A and Trust B was revoked by operation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 191, § 9; (3) the nephews and niece were entitled to take the interest given to the decedent's "nephews and nieces" under Trust B even though they were the ex-husband's blood relatives, leaving the remainder to the universities; (4) the parents lacked standing to remove appellee estate administrator because they were not beneficiaries; and (5) the judge's award of attorneys' fees was vacated and remanded for reconsideration. Where a trust was to receive its funding at the settlor's death, in part through her life insurance policy and retirement benefits, and in part through a pour-over under the residuary clause of her will, and where the settlor was divorced from her husband after executing the trust and her will, the husband's interest in the trust was revoked by virtue of G. L. c. 191, § 9.
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