Brief Fact Summary. Jennifer was the daughter of Thomas III , a beneficiary under a trust. The income of the trust was payable to Thomas III and his siblings. The court determines whether the income should be split between the grandchildren as a class with a right of survivorship or whether it should Jennifer as a great grandchild who may take Thomas III’s share under a right of representation.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In the absence of a contrary intent expressed in the will or a controlling statute, members of a class are joint tenants with rights of survivorship.
Issue. Whether a testator intended to create a class gift with a right of survivorship or whether any issue of that class succeeds by right of representation to their ancestor’s interest?
Held. The testator here did not create a class gift with a right of survivorship. Because the testator intended that the trust should terminate 21 years after the death of his last grandchild, he must have contemplated that someone would have received a distribution during that period and the only logical recipients would be the issue of deceased grandchildren. Also, every other provision in the will points to equal treatment of the testator’s issue per stripes.
Discussion. The court will look to reasonable inferences in the will drawn from the particular circumstances of the case to determine the testator’s intent to include a right of survivorshi.