Thursday, September 27, 2007
The possibility of significant litigation is brewing in Hawaii involving the testamentary trust of George Galbraith which is set to terminate in 2007. The Bank of Hawaii, the trustee of the George Galbraith Trust Estate, has initiated the process of termination of the trust by petitioning the probate court in Hawaii for instructions as to settlement and distribution.
Galbraith's will took effect in 1904 and disposed of his residuary estate in trust, with a number of fixed annuities to be paid to about 48 individuals, and then to their heirs. The will stated the trust is to continue for the longest duration permitted under Hawaii law. At the end of the permitted period, the remaining trust estate is to be distributed equally to those entitled to the annuities.
The poorly drafted will created much confusion over the ultimate disposition of the trust estate (which is valued in the millions). Over the years, the annuities beneficiaries have increased and live all over the world from Ireland to Australia and Hawaii, while the amount of the annuity payments essentially remained the same since 1905. Some speculators reportedly have been purchasing annuity interests from beneficiaries who may have no idea how much their interest may be worth. The strange thing according to some is that the current "beneficiaries" are not the holders of the annuity but rather the lawyers, trustee, and governments raking in fees and taxes.
For more information, see the unofficial site maintained by Ian Lind for news and background on the Estate of George Galbraith and its coming breakup.