The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued its decision in the appeal of Lackman v. McAnulty, a case in which two nieces sued their two aunts in a battle over real estate after the death of their grandfather. The underlying question was whether the “Property” should pass through the grandfather’s revocable trust – in which case the aunts shared in the Property – or whether the property should pass by specific bequest in the grandfather’s will – in which case only the nieces and their father would get the Property. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that once the grandfather transferred the Property to his trust, he no longer had any interest in the property that he could devise in a will.
The Supreme Court rejected the nieces’ argument that, because the quitclaim deed to the Property from the grandfather to himself “as trustee” was filed on the land records without a document that identified the trustee’s powers, the transfer to the trust was a nullity under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 47-20. Looking at the entire statute, rather than just the first sentence of § 47-20, the Supreme Court concluded that the clear legislative intent was to protect innocent third parties to whom property is conveyed during the grantor’s lifetime. That statute was inapplicable because there was no second transfer by the grandfather during his lifetime. Because the transfer of the Property to the trust was valid, the bequest of the Property in the will was ineffective.
In our earlier post about the argument in this case, we noted some questions posed by the Justices that took the parties slightly off the heart of their arguments. Both Justices Eveleigh and McDonald inquired about the importance of evidence of the grandfather’s intent, noting that the will, which was executed after the last amendment to the trust, was the last indication of the grandfather’s intent. The Justices apparently accepted the nieces’ counsel view that the intent of the grandfather was not germane to the construction of § 47-20, and did not address it in the opinion.
You can read the full opinion here. https://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROcr/CR324/324CR30.pdf