Tuesday, October 27, 2020
In Schwerin v. Ratcliffe, the Connecticut Supreme Court analyzed the application of and rationale behind per stripes distribution. "The Court analyzed the terms of two family trusts and law from Connecticut and other jurisdictions to determine the correct generation to serve as the root for the per stirpes distribution in this case."
The plaintiffs, Francis and Brenda Schwerin sought a declaratory judgment regarding proper distribution of assets from two family trusts. The two trusts were (1) the Hubbell Trust and (2) the Roche Trust. Defendants were the trustees and potential beneficiaries of the trusts.
The Hubbell Trust was to expire upon "the death of the last survivor of the grantor [Harvey Hubbell III], his wife Virginia W. Hubbell, his children Harvey Hubbell, Jr., William [Ham] Hubbell and Elizabeth H. Schwerin, and his grandchildren Lisa Lorraine Hubbell and Francis Timothy Schwerin …”
The Roche Trust was set to expire upon the death of the last survivor of the grantor [Roche], her son Harvey Hubbell, her grandchildren Harvey Hubbell, Jr., William [Ham] Hubbell and Elizabeth H. Schwerin, and her great-grandchildren Lisa [Lugovich] and Francis Timothy Schwerin …”
The people in quotations were defined as the measuring lives for the expiration of the Trusts. Therefore, the Trusts would expire upon the death of the last survivor of the measuring lives.
When this case was brought, five of the measuring lives were deceased.
In analyzing the rational behind Per Stirpes Distribution, the Connecticut Supreme Court stated that when the testator has not "expressly provided otherwise" the law favors an equal distribution.
The Court ultimately concluded that "the trial court properly determined that the per stirpes distribution began at the level of the children of the grantor, such that each child was the head of each stirpe."
See A Per Stirpes Primer From The Connecticut Supreme Court, Probate Stars, October 20, 2020.