Hennepin County District Court File No. C6-02-1789
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Schumacher, Judge, and
By virtue of his adult adoption by an uncle, a person is entitled to benefit as their uncle's heir under the terms of a testamentary trust despite explicit exclusion of his mother from the trust.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. Barry Anderson, Judge
In this probate proceeding, appellants contest the district court's determination that respondent was eligible to benefit from a testamentary trust. Appellants argue that the district court erred in (1) finding that respondent, whose mother was explicitly excluded from the trust, was a beneficiary of the trust by virtue of his adult adoption by his uncle and (2) denying the trustee's petition to investigate the circumstances surrounding respondent's adoption. We affirm.
George B. Lane was the founder of a company that through a series of mergers became known as Lane, Piper and Jaffray. He married Nellie Lane, and although the couple did not have any biological children, they adopted Nellie's adult brother, Lewis Barbour. Lewis, the couple's only child, received large portions of their estate.
In the mid 1930's the Lanes created a series of trusts for the benefit of Lewis and his two sons, Henry and George Barbour. The trusts provided Lewis with a lifetime income and, upon his death, divided the bulk of the estate into two equal shares for Henry and George and created a class gift for their "issue." The power of appointment for Henry, Lewis and George was limited to their relatives, surviving spouses and descendents of spouses.
The trusts did not, however, provide for Lewis' only daughter Gwenyth. Instead, George Lane's will states:
I have made no provisions in this instrument for my grand-daughter Gwenyth Barbour, daughter of my son, Lewis W. Barbour, anticipating that he will himself make such provision for her as he deems just and proper.
Lewis did create a trust for Gwenyth that provided her with a lifetime income that upon her death was to be divided equally among her children, kept in trust for those children and distributed at age 50.*fn1
Henry had two children during his first marriage: Jeffery and Pamela. When Henry remarried, he adopted his new wife's adult son, John Gottsleben. In 1988, the district court found Gottsleben to be Lewis' grandchild and thus eligible to benefit from the trust. Respondent asserts that there has ...