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In re Estate of Mullin

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

February 15, 2017

IN RE ESTATE OF KATHLEEN MULLIN

          Argued: November 17, 2016

         9th Circuit Court-Nashua Probate Division

          Barradale, O'Connell, Newkirk & Dwyer, P.A., of Bedford (Pamela J. Newkirk and Laura T. Tetrault on the brief, and Ms. Newkirk orally), for the appellant.

          McLane Middleton, Professional Association, of Manchester (Ralph F. Holmes and Henry R. Klementowicz on the brief, and Mr. Klementowicz orally), for the appellee.

          J. Stanley Mullin, Jr., self-represented party, filed no brief.

          Michael Mullin, self-represented party, filed no brief.

          LYNN, J.

         The appellant, Patricia M. Jakle, administrator of the estate of Kathleen Mullin, appeals an order of the Circuit Court (Quigley, J.) denying her motion for declaratory judgment. We affirm.

         I

         The pertinent facts are as follows. The decedent, Kathleen Mullin, a resident of Hancock, New Hampshire, died intestate on November 26, 2014. Her heirs at law are her three siblings: Michael Mullin, J. Stanley Mullin, Jr., and the appellant. All of the heirs at law are California residents, as is the appellee Laura Bushley. From 2008 until her death, the decedent lived in Hancock and owned real property there valued at $235, 000. She also owned real property in California, where she had lived for many years prior to 2008, as well as personal property valued at $2, 531, 164 at the time of her death.

         Although the decedent did not have a will, in 2012, while in California, she executed a trust document (Trust) that had been drafted by a California attorney. Schedule A of the Trust lists as Trust property some of the decedent's personal property and all of her real property. She also executed an "Assignment of Property to Trust" (Assignment) that purported to transfer to the Trust all of her real property and some of her personal property.[1] The Trust contains the following choice of law provision:

The laws of the State of California in force from time to time shall govern the validity, construction, and administration of this Trust, except that all matters relating to real property shall be governed by the laws of the situs of that real property. This article shall apply regardless of any change of residence of the Trustee or any beneficiary, or the appointment or substitution of a Trustee residing or doing business in another state.

         Prior to her death, the decedent was the beneficiary of the Trust. The terms of the Trust provide that, upon the decedent's death, approximately 88 percent of the Trust property is to be distributed to charitable organizations.

         Laura Bushley, the appellee, is trustee of the Trust. After the decedent's death, the appellee became administrator of the Trust. That same month, the appellee filed in the circuit court a petition for estate administration, which was subsequently granted. In May 2015, the appellee resigned as ...


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