What Ox Vs Ox Means For Belief Planning – New York Property Planning Lawyer Weblog – Jan 22, 2021

In November 2020 case of Ox v. Ox, A Texas court has heard a case that could potentially affect the interpretation of trusts. In this case, a mother set up a foundation that provided the trustee with authority to make distributions to both the trustee’s son and the son’s spouse. At the time the trust was executed, the son was married to his first wife, but later divorced and married a second wife. The son’s children then took legal action against the son for violating fiduciary duties as a trustee and joined the first woman, who is also the mother as a necessary party. The first wife and first son then filed competing summary judgments asking whether the first or second wife was the “spouse” of the son referred to in the trust. The court then ruled that the second woman was the correct beneficiary at the time of the lawsuit. The first woman then appealed.

As for the case

The second wife and son argued that the use of the word “spouse” in trust documents did not mean the actual name of the first spouse. Instead, these parties argued that the term was referring to the class of those who were currently married to the son. However, the appeals court disagreed. The first wife argued that a gift to a “spouse” of a married person must, without any contrary intention, be construed as meaning the spouse at the time of enforcement in lieu of a future spouse. The first woman further argued that the terms “spouse of the primary beneficiary” and “spouse of son” referred to the first wife because she was the spouse of the son at the time the trust was executed. Both interpretations prompted the court to view spouses as either status or class gifts.

However, the court found that these interpretations were inconsistent with the Texas precedent dealing with the use of classes in trusts and wills. The court also found that these measures did not “harmonize” the provisions of irrevocable trust. Class gifts are defined as the gift of a total sum to several people of an uncertain number at the time of the gift. In this situation, it was possible to identify a specific spouse at the time the trust ran in 2008. The court found that there was no evidence but that the term “spouse” was used to define a group of people who were at the time of the gift. As a result, the court ruled that the grantee’s use of the word “spouse” at the time the trust was run was referring to Williams’ spouses and not referring to any class of persons including future spouses. As a result, the court reversed and made for the first woman.

Lessons from the ox

Ox should serve as a reminder that defining the terms of a trust is vital. Inadequate definitions, trust relationships can be managed in ways that do not achieve the trust builder’s goals.

Speak to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney

If you or a loved one needs the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us Law firm Ettinger Schedule a free case assessment. Our attorneys know that no two estate plans are alike and continue to be committed to achieving each of your unique estate planning goals.

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