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Teeple v. Hunziker

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 5, 1983.

GORDON TEEPLE ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

JUNIOR HUNZIKER ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. John A. Krause, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE UNVERZAGT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal arises from an action brought by the plaintiffs, Gordon Teeple and Harold Teeple, against the defendants, Junior Hunziker, Arthur L. Clay, Jr., Daniel Hoy, Betty Credicott, and Illinois National Bank & Trust Company of Rockford, to quiet title to certain real estate purportedly transferred by deed into a trust. On a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs as to counts 1 and 2 of their complaint. The defendants appeal from that order, raising the following issues: (1) whether the pleadings presented a material question of fact that should have precluded a judgment on the pleadings; (2) whether "The Teeple Trust" was invalid as a matter of law as disclosed in the pleadings; and (3) whether two deeds dated May 4, 1981, transferring property into the Teeple Trust, were void as a matter of law.

The plaintiffs and defendant Betty Credicott are the only children and sole heirs at law of Henrietta Teeple, who died on January 7, 1982, at the age of 96, leaving a 216-acre farm with a residence on it. The plaintiffs' five-count complaint to quiet title to that property sought, inter alia, a declaration that a certain trust entitled "The Teeple Trust" was void and that the deeds transferring real property owned by Henrietta Teeple to that trust were also void and of no legal effect. Several documents were attached to the complaint and amended answer filed by the defendants.

(1) A will dated September 2, 1976, left a tract of land including the house on the Teeple farm to Gordon Teeple, with the rest of the estate to be split equally among Gordon Teeple, Harold Teeple, and Betty Credicott.

(2) A trust agreement dated December 3, 1976, which named Henrietta Teeple as both settlor and trustee, purported to establish a revocable trust of her real property for the benefit of the settlor, with the dwelling house and certain land on the farm to go to Gordon Teeple upon her death the rest of the trust estate to be distributed equally to Gordon Teeple, Harold Teeple, and Betty Credicott. Defendant Illinois National Bank & Trust Company of Rockford was named as successor trustee.

(3) A will dated December 10, 1976, left all of Henrietta Teeple's property to the bank to become part of the December 3, 1976, trust.

(4) Trust minutes, dated March 29, 1980, noted a desire to amend the trust dated December 3, 1976, in order to increase the land to be transferred to Gordon Teeple. It also acknowledged that a power of attorney was being granted to Daniel L. Hoy.

(5) A power of attorney, dated March 29, 1980, and signed by Henrietta Teeple, gave Daniel Hoy the authority to deal fully with her real and personal property, with the restriction that he not give away any of her estate whatsoever.

(6) An amendment to the trust agreement, dated April 2, 1980, substituted defendants Arthur L. Clay, Jr. and Junior Hunziker for the bank as successor trustees and increased the amount of land left to Gordon Teeple. The amendment was signed "Henrietta M. Teeple by power of attorney Daniel L. Hoy."

(7) On January 5, 1981, another amendment to the trust agreement was executed by Daniel Hoy by power of attorney for Henrietta Teeple. It expressed an intention to rewrite the trust agreement and amendments in a single trust agreement to be called "The Teeple Trust," which would be irrevocable. It also stated that Henrietta Teeple intended the Teeple Trust to be considered the final amendment of the December 3, 1976, trust and not a revocation thereof.

(8) A cancellation of will, dated April 29, 1981, and signed by Henrietta Teeple, declared the December 10, 1976, will void. It further stated that the will was replaced by a declaration of trust dated April 30, 1981, which would be the final and binding document concerning all of her estate.

(9) A document entitled "The Teeple Trust," dated April 30, 1981, purported to create an irrevocable trust, naming defendants Junior Hunziker and Arthur L. Clay, Jr., as trustees. The "creator" was designated Daniel Hoy and the handwritten name of Daniel Hoy appeared on the signature line for the grantor. According to the terms of the trust agreement, the properties of the creator would be exchanged for all of the trust certificates of beneficial interest, and the holders of the certificates would be the beneficiaries. The trust would continue for 25 years, and upon termination the corpus would be distributed pro rata to the certificate holders. The certificates were to be issued by the trustees and were transferable only to certain relatives of the grantor.

(10) On May 4, 1981, two deeds executed "Henrietta M. Teeple by power of attorney Daniel L. Hoy" conveyed the farm property from Henrietta Teeple to the Teeple Trust.

Counts 1 and 2 of the plaintiffs' complaint alleged that the December 3, 1976, trust was not legal because it contained no res; that the Teeple Trust was not valid in that it did not identify the beneficiaries or describe the res; that the Teeple Trust's provision for property to be transferred to the trust referred to that of Daniel Hoy or an unidentified transferor; that Hoy did not and would not transfer his own property to the Teeple Trust; that, since the Teeple Trust was not valid, subsequent transfers to it were a nullity; and that two deeds transferring certain real property of Henrietta Teeple to the Teeple Trust and executed by Daniel Hoy under his power of attorney were also void because he exceeded his power of attorney by giving away part of Henrietta Teeple's estate. In their amended answer, the defendants denied the invalidity of the trust, noting that those allegations were conclusions of law and not affirmations of fact; stated that Hoy's execution of the Teeple Trust was ...


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