Bongaards v. Millen

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

793 N.E.2d 335 (Mass. 2003)

When calculating an omitted spouse’s share under G.L. c. 191, §15, the trust assets of a trust created by a third party may not be included in the trust beneficiary’s estate.

Relevant Facts

At the time of her death, Jean Bongaard was the life tenant of a trust established by her mother, which included an apartment building worth $1.4 million. Jean had the power of appointment over the trust remainder and a right of termination during her lifetime. If she exercised her right of termination, the trust assets would be released to her. Jean never exercised her right of termination. However, she did exercise her power of appointment and appointed the trust to her sister, Nina (the defendant). Jean was survived by her husband, George (the plaintiff). The plaintiff and Jean lived in the apartment building together. Upon her death, the plaintiff discovered that Jean explicitly disinherited him in her will. The plaintiff took an elective share of Jean’s estate under G.L. c. 191, §15, claiming that the trust assets should be included in the estate from which his elective share would be calculated. The case was eventually appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

January 6, 2021

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Procedural History

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Citations

793 N.E.2d 335 (Mass. 2003)