- Ag Docket
Here, the surviving spouse of a farmer placed the farm into a revocable trust which named her as trustee and specified that the trust assets were for her use and benefit during her life with the assets then passing to the couple's children. The surviving spouse sold the farm to the on-farm child who had farmed with his father at a discounted per-acre price which equaled the price at which a tract had been sold to a daughter, but the daughter (now acting as successor trustee) objected to the sale and refused to honor the purchase agreement. The on-farm child sued for specific performance. The appellate court determined that the surviving spouse was competent, the selling price was adequate and no undue influence was present, but also held that the on-farm heir breached a fiduciary duty by participating in the sale. On further review, the state (IN) Supreme Court determined (in accordance with Sec. 603 of Uniform Trust Code (UTC)) that a trustee's duties are only owed to the settlor while the trust is revocable and that state law mirrored the UTC. Thus, the surviving spouse's ability to amend or revoke the trust displaced any implied duty owed to beneficiaries and the surviving spouse could sell the farm to the on-farm heir at a price below market value. The purchase agreement did not constitute an amendment to the trust due to lack of governing trust language, and the surviving spouse signed the purchase agreement as trustee rather than as settlor. The on-farm child was entitled to specific performance. Fulp v. Gilliland, 998 N.E.2d 204 (Ind. 2013).
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