In re Trust known as the Maintenance Fund of the Sunset Memorial Park Chapel Mausoleum Company of Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery Association, Inc., and Myrtle Hughbanks, interested parties, appellants and cross-appellees. Bank of the West, formerly known as The Guardian State Bank and Trust Co., Trustee, appellee and cross-appellant,
Standing: Jurisdiction: Parties. Standing is
a jurisdictional component of a party's case because only
a party who has standing may invoke the jurisdiction of a
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. The question
of jurisdiction is a question of law, upon which an appellate
court reaches a conclusion independent of the trial court.
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.
Decedents' Estates: Trusts: Equity: Appeal and
Error. The removal of a trustee is a question of
equity, and therefore an appellate court reviews de novo the
question of whether a trustee was properly removed.
Standing: Words and Phrases. Standing is the
legal or equitable right, title, or interest in the subject
matter of the controversy.
Jurisdiction: Standing. The requirement of
standing is fundamental to a court's exercise of
jurisdiction, and either a litigant or a court before which a
case is pending can raise the question of standing at any
time during the proceeding.
Neb. 955] 7. Standing: Jurisdiction:
Proof. A party invoking a court's or
tribunal's jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing
the elements of standing.
Standing: Jurisdiction. Standing requires
that a litigant have such a personal stake in the outcome of
a controversy as to warrant invocation of a court's
jurisdiction and justify exercise of the court's remedial
powers on the litigant's behalf.
Standing: Claims: Parties. To have standing,
a litigant must assert the litigant's own rights and
interests, and cannot rest a claim on the legal rights or
interests of third parties.
Trusts. In the case of a special purpose
trust, trustees cannot on their own decide that carrying out
the trust as originally planned has become impossible or
Trusts: Fees. A trustee will generally not
be allowed to resign if the terms of the trust agreement,
agreed to by the settlor and trustee, became inadequate
according to the present market value of a trustee's
from the County Court for Scotts Bluff County: James M.
Worden, Judge. Affirmed in part, and in part reversed and
remanded for further proceedings.
M. Brenner, of Robert M. Brenner Law Office, for appellants.
A. Selzer, of Simmons Olsen Law Firm, P.C., L.L.O., for
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik,
and Freudenberg JJ.
the West, formerly known as The Guardian State Bank and Trust
Co. (Trustee), as trustee for a trust fund created for the
perpetual care and maintenance of the Sunset Memorial Park
Mausoleum, petitioned the county court for Scotts Bluff
County to resign as trustee; to be paid trustee fees,
expenses, and attorney fees; and to terminate the perpetual
care trust due to circumstances not anticipated at the time
the trust was created. Several objectors opposed terminating
the trust, including [302 Neb. 956] Myrtle Hughbanks, a
person who owns a crypt in the mausoleum, and Sunset Memorial
Park Cemetery Association, Inc. (Cemetery Association), a
nonprofit corporation that owns and operates the surrounding
cemetery in which the mausoleum is located. The county court
found that the Cemetery Association lacked standing and
accepted the resignation of the Trustee. The county court
ordered the Trustee to pay trustee fees, attorney fees,
costs, and expenses incurred during the prosecution of the
petition, which payments would exhaust the balance of the
trust fund. The county court denied both parties' motions
for attorney fees, and its order did not provide for future
trust management. The Cemetery Association and Hughbanks
appealed, and the Trustee cross-appealed. We determine that
in addition to Hughbanks, the Cemetery Association possesses
standing, and that the county court's ruling to the
contrary was error. Further, because of the perpetual nature
of a mausoleum trust, it was error to grant the Trustee's
request for resignation and discharge without the
Trustee's having identified and requested the appointment
of a successor trustee. Accordingly, we affirm the county
court's denial of the parties' motions for attorney
fees, but we reverse the order of discharge and associated
award of fees and remand the cause for further proceedings.
issues in this case must be decided by reference to the
mausoleum-related statutes and the Trust agreement. The
statutes are found at Neb. Rev. Stat. § 12-601 et seq.
(Reissue 2012) ...