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Swanson v. Swanson

    Brief Fact Summary. The Appellant, Peggy Swanson (Appellant), brings action claiming she is entitled to inherit her deceased husband’s remainder interests held in a trust created by his father.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A vested remainder can be inherited.

    Facts. The Appellant argues that she is the beneficiary of her deceased husband’s remainder interests held in a trust created by his father. The Appellees, are the siblings of the Appellant’s deceased husband (Appellees). The court in determining whether the Appellant inherited these interests distinguished between vested remainders and contingent remainders. A remainder is vested if at the time the instrument takes effect there is an existing and ascertained person that has a right to immediate possession upon normal termination of the preceding estate. The court found the remainders were vested, as there were identifiable persons who would take if the preceding estate ended. As the remainder was vested in the husband, he was able to pass his interest in the trust to his wife by his will.

    Issue. Whether the Appellant is entitled to inherit her deceased husband’s remainder interests held in a trust created by his father?

    Held. Reversed. The interest in the trust passes to the Appellant under the terms of his will because (i) his remainder was vested; (ii) no condition subsequent occurred prior to the termination of the life estate; (iii) there is no language in the husband’s will that manifests a intent for the Appellant not to inherit the trust interest and case law supports this holding.

    Discussion. Vested future interests held in trust can be devised by will. A vested future interest is one created in an existing and ascertained person and not subject to a condition precedent. The holder of the vested remainder has a right to immediate possession upon normal termination of the preceding estate.


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