- Will construction—failure of trust (Jeffreys and others v Scruton and others)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Private Client analysis: The Will established a discretionary trust for the testatrix’s issue with a standard power to add any person as an additional beneficiary during the 80-year trust period and wide powers to appoint and apply capital and income. It directed that ‘in default of and subject to any exercise of’ those powers, the trustees should hold the trust fund (i) on expiry of the trust period for her issue (if any) then living and (ii) ‘if at any time the trusts declared by the foregoing provisions fail’ on trust for her nephews and nieces absolutely (subject to attaining age 18 or previously marrying). The testatrix had one child, who predeceased her. The question raised by the trustees was whether the power to add a beneficiary remained exercisable, or whether the trust fund was held exclusively for the nephews and nieces. The court held that upon the testatrix’s death the discretionary trusts had failed—that the power to add was not exercisable—and that the trust fund was accordingly held on trust for the class of nephews and nieces entitled under Clause 5(c)(iii) of the Will. Written by Thomas Seymour, barrister at Wilberforce Chambers and counsel to the first, second and tenth to seventeenth defendants.
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