Trusts – Validity and Effect of Assignment of Beneficial Interest in Trust for Support – Claims of Beneficiary’s Divorced Wife and Children

A testamentary trust required the trustee to apply income in such amounts as might be necessary for the education, support and maintenance of H until he attained the age of 35 years; then to hand over the corpus and accrued interest. Contingent interests were created for children of H who might survive his death before the age of 35. After the death of testatrix, H married W and had two children. In an agreement subsequently incorporated in a California decree of divorce obtained by W, H promised to make monthly payments to W for her own support and for the support of his children until distribution of the trust, and purported to assign to her his interest in the trust income to secure this obligation. Upon W‘s request for payment, plaintiff trustee sought a judgment declaratory of the effect of the assignment and the claims of H‘s wife and children. On appeal, held: (1) Trustee had no right or duty to comply with the purported assignment of income to W. The trust was one for support from income and H could not alienate his income interest. (2) The will of testatrix evidenced her expectation that H might marry and her intent that reasonable support be provided not only for H individually, but for his family as well. Accordingly, trustee was instructed to pay from surplus income, after providing support for H, amounts which it should consider reasonably necessary for the education, support and maintenance of his children. (3) Trustee had no right to honor W’s claim for support from the trust. Under the terms of the divorce decree she became a mere creditor unconnected with H‘s family and her needs for support were not to be considered in determining the amount necessary for H‘s support. Seattle First Nat. Bank v. Crosby, (Wash. 1953) 254 P. (2d) 732.