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Claflin v. Claflin Case Brief

Summary of Claflin v. Claflin, 149 Mass. 19, 20 N.E. 455 (1889)

Facts: Deceased left a will, modified by codicil, leaving all residue to trustees to sell and dispose and pay his wife 1/3 of the proceeds, and to pay his son Clarence 1/3 of proceeds, but to his son Adelbert 1/3 ($10K when 21, 25, and then 30 years old). When the dad passed, Adelbert was 20.  He later received his first $10K, but has not reached 25.  He wants the trustees to pay him the remainder of the trust fund.

Issue: Whether a restriction on alienation of an absolute interest in income of trust property are void, thereby enabling the beneficiary to terminate the trust in advance of the time for termination?

Holding: Termination of trust by beneficiaries in advance of the time for termination under its terms is prohibited if such termination would defeat the material purpose of the settlor.

Procedure: Supreme Ct held trust cannot be terminated in advance.   Decree Affirmed.

Rule:A testator has the right to dispose of his property with such restrictions and limitations, not repugnant with the law, as he sees fit, and unless his intentions are against public policy they ought to be carried out.

Rationale:  There is no opinion that provisions requiring a trustee to hold and manage property until the beneficiary reaches an age beyond that of 21 are void if the interest of the beneficiary is vested and absolute. This is not a dry trust, nor has the purposes of the trust been accomplished if the intent of the trustor is to be carried out.

Nothing has happened which the testator did not anticipate, and for which he has not made provision. The Pl’s interest is alienable to him, and can be taken by his creditors, but it does not follow that b/c the testator has not imposed all possible restrictions that the restrictions imposed should not be carried out.




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