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Bullis v. Dupage Trust Co.

OPINION FILED JUNE 14, 1979.

CRAIG M. BULLIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

DUPAGE TRUST COMPANY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. CHARLES R. NORGLE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Craig M. Bullis, the son of Roselyn Ann Bullis, deceased, sued for a construction of the trust provisions under the decedent's will and for an accounting from the DuPage Trust Company, the trustee. The trial court dismissed plaintiff's complaint and he appeals.

The dispute involves the interpretation of Article Four of the will which provides:

"ARTICLE FOUR

All the rest of my estate, real and personal, wherever located (referred to in this article as the `trust property'), including all lapsed legacies and devises, but expressly excluding any property over which I now or hereafter may have power or [sic] appointment, I give and devise to the Du PAGE TRUST COMPANY of Glen Ellyn, Illinois (a Banking Corporation with Trust Powers), as trustee, subject to the following trusts:

4. 1. Commencing at my death and during the life of my husband, MAURICE OTTO BULLIS, the trustee shall pay to him the income from the trust property, and in addition to income the trustee may pay from time to time to my husband such amounts from the principal of the trust property as the trustee considers necessary or desirable for his comfortable maintenance, medical care and welfare, taking into consideration the income and cash resources known to the trustee to be available to my husband from other sources, including the trust created by Article Three.

4. 2. Upon the death of my husband, MAURICE OTTO BULLIS, or upon my death, if he predeceases me, the Trustee shall set TRUST "B", as then constituted, aside for the benefit of our son, CRAIG MARSHALL BULLIS, as follows:

a. While CRAIG is under 25 years of age, the Trustee shall use for CRAIG'S benefit, so much of the income of the Trust, as the Trustee determines to be required, in addition to his other income from all sources known to the Trustee, for his reasonable support, comfort and education, adding any excess income to the principal at the discretion of the Trustee. After CRAIG reaches that age, the Trustee shall pay all the current net income of his Trust to CRAIG in convenient installments, at least as often as quarter-annually.

b. Our son, CRAIG, is to receive twenty-five percent (25%) of my residuary Estate upon his twenty-fifth (25th) birthday, another twenty-five percent (25%) of my residuary Estate upon his thirtieth (30th) birthday, and the balance of the Estate on his thirty-fifth (35th) birthday.

c. If my son, CRAIG, should die before reaching his majority (21st birthday) and my husband, MAURICE, should predecease me, I direct that that share of the residuary Estate provided for herein for MAURICE and CRAIG shall be divided, share and share alike, between my sister, CLAUDIA WATERS, and my brother, WARREN A. RUXTON, or their heirs.

d. If my husband, MAURICE, should predecease me and my son, CRAIG, should die after reaching his twenty-first (21st) birthday and having been married and having had children born of the marriage, I direct that my Trustee give my residuary Estate to CRAIG'S children in portions and shares, such as will take care of their education, maintenance, and support during their lifetime, until each child has reached his twenty-first (21st) birthday, on which date each child will be given his proportionate share of the residuary Estate." (Emphasis added.)

Only the quoted portion of the will was offered in evidence and the entire will is not before us. The parties here have conceded that it is in the "usual" form setting up two marital trusts (Trust A and Trust B). The construction turns principally on the meaning of the underlined section 4.2.b.

In count I of his complaint Craig Bullis, then age 31, set forth the provisions of Article Four and claimed they were ambiguous. He further argued that in order to resolve the ambiguity it was necessary to receive extrinsic evidence bearing on the question of his mother's intention at the time she made her will. He also prayed for an interpretation of Article Four that would accelerate the transfer of the principal of the trust from the trustee to himself: on reaching his 25th birthday, 25 percent of the principal, 50 percent upon reaching the age of 30; and the entire principal of the trust when he reached the age of 35, even if his father continued to live and be ...


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