Justia Real Estate & Property Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Estate Planning
In 1993, John Houlahan and his wife, Theresa, established the "Theresa M. Houlahan Revocable Trust of 1993" containing the marital home. John was named successor trustee of, and granted certain powers over, the Theresa Trust. Upon the deaths of Theresa and John, the real property was to be distributed to their son, petitioner Thomas Houlahan. Theresa died in 1996. In 1997, John established the "John F. Houlahan 1997 Revocable Trust." John named his daughter (respondent) as successor trustee. In November 2002, John conveyed the real property by deed to himself, as trustee of the John Trust. John died in 2009. Under the terms of the John Trust, "[a]ny interest this trust may have in any real estate" was to be distributed in equal shares to four of his children: petitioner, respondent, John F. Houlahan, Jr., and Terrence B. Houlahan. In 2011, petitioner filed a "Petition for Injunction" seeking, among other things, an order that the property be returned to the Theresa Trust and that respondent, as successor trustee of the John Trust, be enjoined from making any attempt to dispose of the property. In late 2011, petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that there was "no genuine issue of material fact" that John's "actions in his capacity as Trustee violated the terms of [the Theresa Trust] and specific provisions of the Uniform Trust Code." Following a hearing, the trial court denied petitioner's motion for summary judgment, finding that there were many disputed factual issues that could not be decided on the pleadings. On appeal, petitioner argued that the trial court erred in granting respondent's motion for summary judgment on the ground that the transfer of the real estate in 2002 effectively terminated the trust and the petitioner's interest in the trust. He asserted that "[w]hen John breached his fiduciary duties, the trust gained an additional asset– a cause of action against John or his estate," and, thus, "[n]either [the petitioner's] beneficial interest nor the trust was terminated by John's conveyance." After its review, the Supreme Court concluded that the Theresa Trust did not terminate in 2002, and neither did the petitioner's interest therein. The trial court's finding, that there were "many disputed issues of material fact" that could not be decided on the pleadings, was not erroneous. Accordingly, the Court affirmed its denial of petitioner's motion for summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings.View "In re Theresa Houlahan Trust" on Justia Law