Peter Bing, Grandfather To Damian Hurley And Kira Kerkorian, Can’t Exclude Grandchildren From Trust
The Daily Mail reported that a Los Angeles judge ruled that Steve Bing and Elizabeth Hurley’s son Damian Hurley, 17, and his half-sister Kira Kerkorian, the daughter of Steve and former tennis pro Lisa Bonder, are beneficiaries to their grandfather, Dr. Peter Bing’s, trust. The trust is set to terminate in October 2020.
Dr. Bing tried to cut the two out of his trust by attempting to clarify his interpretation of the term “grandchild.” Dr. Bing established his trust in 1980 to “benefit [his] future grandchildren,” who were born or adopted at a young age by Steve or Dr. Bing’s daughter, Mary. Dr. Bing argued that he did not intend for children who were born out of wedlock and who did not live in their parent’s home for a significant amount of time as a minor to be beneficiaries.
Steve accused his father of scheming with Mary to “orchestrate a massive money-grab to deprive” Kira and Damian of their inheritance and “thereby increasing – perhaps even doubling – her own children’s share of the available fund.”
The judge denied the trustee’s attempt to claim the term “grandchild” was ambiguous and needed to be clarified. In this case, the judge did not buy in to the arguments and the trust will be distributed as stated. All of the grandchildren are set to inherit several millions of dollars from the trust.
Remember – even terms that appear as clear as “grandchild,” need to be considered carefully when drafting a trust. This is also true in New Jersey where settlors have some wiggle room. In Re Estate of Nelson, a 2018 New Jersey case, considered a similar issue and determined that courts may look beyond the apparent plain language in a trust to determine the settlor’s probable intent. Further, the New Jersey Uniform Trust Code specifically allows the courts to construe terms of a trust “to conform to the settlor’s probable intent.” N.J.S.A. 3B:31-32.