Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Courts / N.C. Court of Appeals / Trusts & Estates – Spendthrift Trust – Slayer Beneficiary – Presumed Predeceased – No Piercing 

Trusts & Estates – Spendthrift Trust – Slayer Beneficiary – Presumed Predeceased – No Piercing 

When defendant Robert Jackson killed his wife, Lena Jackson, the couple’s trust became both irrevocable and spendthrift. Lena’s estate may not pierce the spendthrift provision of the trust so as to execute on the $500,000 wrongful death judgment obtained against Robert. 

We affirm the trial court’s judgment denying the plaintiff-executrix’s request to pierce the trust under G.S. § 36C-5-505. 

Section 36C-5-505(a)(3) provides in part, “(a) Subject to the other applicable law, whether or not the terms of a trust contain a spendthrift provision . . ., the following rules apply: . . . . (3) After the death of a settlor, and subject to the settlor’s right to direct the source from which liabilities will be paid, the property of a trust that was revocable at the settlor’s death is subject to claims of the settlor’s creditors . . . to the extent that the settlor’s probate estate is inadequate to satisfy those claims . . . unless barred by applicable law.” 

Pursuant to G.S. § 31A-4, a “slayer” is deemed to have died immediately prior to his victim’s death for purposes of excluding the slayer from his victim’s estate.  

Pursuant to the terms of the couple’s trust, upon Lena’s death, the trust became irrevocable and Robert became the sole trustee of the trust. Although Robert was subsequently found to be a “slayer” and “deemed to have died” immediately prior to Lena’s death, § 31A-4 deems the slayer to have predeceased his victim only for purposes of excluding the slayer from his victim’s estate. The statute does not indulge the fiction that the slayer’s date of death is other than the actual date of death, but merely establishes a presumption to exclude the slayer. 

As the trust became irrevocable at the time of Lena’s death, and Robert is not in fact dead, § 36C-5-505(a)(3) is inapplicable to the facts of this case, and the trust’s assets cannot be used to satisfy the outstanding civil judgment against Robert. 

Affirmed. 

Wright v. Jackson (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-286-22, 6 pp.) (Allegra Collins, J.) Appealed from Cumberland County Superior Court (James Ammons, J.) Eric Ditmore for plaintiff; Isaac Halverson, Lonnie Player and Stacey Tally for defendants. 2022-NCCOA-442 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*