Sunday, April 1, 2018
IN THE MATTER OF THE TRUST OF VIOLET NELSON A-4004-15T1
IN THE MATTER OF THE TRUST OF VIOLET NELSON
Applying the doctrine of probable intent, see Fidelity Union Trust Co. v. Robert, 36 N.J. 561 (1962), the panel reverses summary judgment and holds that the trial court was obliged to consider extrinsic evidence to interpret a trust, even though the language on its face appeared clear. Relying on extrinsic evidence, including the settlor's alleged personal usage of the apparently plain term, "grandchildren," the trustee contended the settlor's gift to her "grandchildren" was intended to exclude the children of her daughter who married outside the settlor's faith. The panel rejects, as contrary to caselaw, the dictum in In re Estate of Gabrellian, 372 N.J. Super. 432, 443 (App. Div. 2004) that "[t]he doctrine of probable intent is not applicable where the documents are clear on their face and there is no failure of any bequest or provision." The matter is remanded for trial on the issue of the settlor's intent.