How do YOU define Issue?

    In November 2010, the California Court of Appeals ruled on whether a grandparent's trust intended to include their grandchild pursuant to the definition of "issue' in their trust. Charles and Serene Papaz created the Papaz Family Trust on August 2, 1996, for their only son Christopher. Their son, Christopher had three children out of wedlock. This created some confusion with regard to the definition of "issue" in the trust.
   The Papaz Family Trust defined issue to expressly exclude persons adopted into the trustors' bloodline and persons adopted out of the Trustors' bloodline. This created a problem with regard to Jonathan who was Christopher's biological child. However, Jonathan lived with his mother and her husband who raised Jonathan as their child but did not adopt him.
   The trial court found that Jonathan was not a beneficiary under the trust because "the trust is not specific concerning the rights of someone in Jonathan's circumstances." In other words, the definition of "issue" was ambiguous and the court held it did not apply to Jonathan.  This case serves to illustrate the importance of clearly drafted language in a trust instrument. If you live in the Los Angeles area and are considering drafting aliving trust or have questions about an existing trust you should consult with a Los Angeles estate litigation lawyer.
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