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In re Trust Created by Haberman

Court of Appeals of Nebraska

November 1, 2016

In re Trust Created by Phyllis L. Haberman. George Haberman, appellant,
v.
Mary Lou Haberman et al., appellees.

         1. Trusts: Equity: Appeal and Error. Absent an equity question, an appellate court reviews trust administration matters for error appearing on the record; but where an equity question is presented, appellate review of that issue is de novo on the record.

         2. Trusts. Under Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-3855(a) (Cum. Supp. 2014), while a trust is revocable, rights of the beneficiaries are subject to the control of the settlor.

         3. ___. The settlor of a written revocable trust may revoke or amend the trust by substantial compliance with a method provided in the terms of the trust.

         4. ___. The amendment of a revocable trust terminating a beneficiary's interest in the trust property invalidates any earlier agreements that the beneficiary may have entered into with respect to the beneficiary's interest in the trust corpus.

         5. Judgments: Appeal and Error. Where the record adequately demonstrates that the decision of the trial court is correct, although such correctness is based on a ground or reason different from that assigned by the trial court, an appellate court will affirm.

         6. Appeal and Error. An appellate court is not obligated to engage in an analysis that is not necessary to adjudicate the case and controversy before it.

         Appeal from the County Court for Adams County: Robert A. Ide, Judge, Retired. Affirmed.

          David V. Drew, of Drew Law Firm, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

         [24 Neb.App. 360] Daniel E. Klaus, Rembolt Ludtke, L.L.P., for appellees.

          Moore, Chief Judge, and Inbody and Pirtle, Judges.

          PER CURIAM.

         INTRODUCTION

         This case concerns the disposition of the property contained in the Phyllis L. Haberman Revocable Trust following the death of the trust's settlor, Phyllis L. Haberman. George Haberman, one of Phyllis' sons, contends that he is entitled to a portion of the trust property despite an amendment to the trust excluding George as a beneficiary. George argues that an earlier agreement between himself, the trust, and his siblings-Phillip Haberman, Rex S. Haberman II, and Mary Lou Haberman- should govern the current disposition of the trust corpus. Upon our review, we affirm the county court's decision holding that George is not entitled to a portion of the trust property.

         BACKGROUND

         Phyllis created the revocable trust at issue in this case in 1996. The trust corpus consisted primarily of land interests held by the family company, R and P Limited Partnership (R and P), and additional property which was separately owned by Phyllis and her spouse.

         The 1996 trust agreement named as its beneficiaries Phyllis; Phyllis' four children-George, Phillip, Rex, and Mary Lou; and Phyllis' husband who predeceased her and who is not a part of the present dispute. The trust provided that upon the death of Phyllis and her spouse, George, Phillip, and Mary Lou would each receive equal shares of R and P, and Rex would receive parcels of real estate located in Kimball County, Nebraska. Any remaining trust assets were to be equally divided among the four siblings.

         The declaration of trust document also provided that the trust could be amended or revoked as follows:

GRANTOR specifically reserves the following rights during [her] lifetime:
[24 Neb.App. 361] . . . To remove the TRUSTEE and appoint a successor and to modify or alter this Declaration of Trust in whole or in part by an instrument in writing signed by GRANTOR and delivered to the TRUSTEE or to revoke this trust ...

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