Washington Law Review




Plaintiff executed a spendthrift trust reserving to herself an income interest for life. Upon her death corpus was to be paid over as she appointed by will, or in default of appointment to "such of her next of kin... as by the law in force in the District of Columbia at the death of the... [settlor] shall be provided for in the distribution of an intestate's personal property therein." The trust by its terms was irrevocable, and there was no reserved power to alter, amend, or modify. Settlor sought modification of the trust, invoking the doctrine of worthier title in an attempt to construe the future interest as a reversion in herself, rather than a remainder in her next of kin. As both sole beneficiary and settlor, she claimed the power to revoke or modify the trust at will. On appeal from summary judgment for defendant-trustee, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed. Held: The doctrine of worthier title is rejected in the District of Columbia; therefore settlor-beneficiary cannot modify the trust without consent of remaindermen; however, when a trust instrument creates a remainder interest in a settlor's heirs or next of kin, a guardian ad litem representing unborn and unascertained heirs may bargain with the settlor for trust modification and consent thereto on their behalf. Hatch v. Riggs Nat'l Bank, 361 F.2d 559 (D.C. Cir. 1966).

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