Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another Diversification Case

A reader of this blog, who wishes to be uncited, pointed out to me the recent case of Wood v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 160 Ohio App. 3d 831, 2005-Ohio-2341, and made the following observations:

The decision is notable for a few reasons.  First, it involves a little-litigated issue regarding trustee investment:  Does a trustee have a duty to diversify the assets of a trust when the language of the trust authorizes retention of a specific asset, namely stock in the corporate trustee?  Second,* * * the case involves a noteworthy corporate trustee.  Third, the opinion has a fair amount of discussion regarding a trustee's duties under the prudent investor rule. Finally, the opinion was written by an appeals court judge (Mark Painter) who is a leader in Ohio in the plain English movement.  He maintains a Web site-- http://www.judgepainter.org.

My reader continues,

If I may, the opinion has several other interesting sidelights.  The decedent is described as a "prominent Cincinnati attorney with estate-planning experience." * * * The corporate trustee is the successor institution to one of Cincinnati's old line banks--represented locally by one of Cincinnati's old line law firms.  Despite the decedent's supposed expertise and the involvement of the trust department of an old line local bank, the decision noted that there was some confusion concerning which of two sets of estate planning documents were actually operative at the decedent's death.


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