Estate Litigation can be Complex

The Hadley case inRhode Islandwhich was decided in 2005 is a well-known case for good intentions gone awry in estate planning. Art Hadley created a trust for his adult children and his wife. When he died his wife established a trust of her own which named their children as beneficiaries along with common provisions in a trust. When the last child named in the trust passed away, the trusts had to be distributed and the Trustee, Fleet Bank, asked the Court to intervene to help determine the proper beneficiaries of the trusts.  Understandably Fleet Bank didn’t want to be responsible for untangling the claims made on the trust.

According to public court documents the following people had an interest in the trusts:

“The parties who have asserted an interest in the Hadley Trusts, and their relationship to the Hadley’s, are the following: (1) Janet Hunt and Lucille Foster are the adopted children of Thomas Hadley; (2) Marcia Hanrahan is the executrix and a potential beneficiary of Sarah Hadley’s estate; (3) Cynthia Gay is a potential beneficiary of Sarah Hadley’s estate; (4) Allyson Gay, Wendy Gay, Robert Seeley, Diana Robertson, Suzanne Beyer, Cynthia Gay, Sheila Gay Franklin, Reverend Ronald Gay and Wylma Cooley are potential beneficiaries of Art Hadley’s estate; (5) Stephen Lucas, Donald Lucas, Jeffery C. Lucas, Fay C. Drummond, Raymond J. Harrison, R. Carol Justice, Clair Perry, Elizabeth Perry Robinson, Brigette Perry  Young, Sigrid Perry Reddon, Sharon Perry Glover, Eugene E. Perry II, Jane Cranston and Bruce Allsop are potential beneficiaries of Frances Hadley’s estate.”

How could this happen? There were layers of beneficiaries and family members for each child who had an interest in the trust.  Updating trust documents and making documents which are flexible enough to handle future consequences can help reduce situations like that of the Hadley family.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman can help you create a plan and trust documents which protect your assets, save tax consequences, and protect loved ones. Call us today at 973-841-5111.

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