Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shenandoah Valley National Bank v. Taylor case brief

Shenandoah Valley National Bank v. Taylor case brief summary
63 S.E.2d 786 (1951)

Appellant, executor and trustee, sought review of the judgment of the Corporation Court of the City of Winchester (Virginia), which, in a suit filed by appellee heirs and distributors, held that a trust created by the testator's will was not charitable but a private trust and thus void as violative of the rule against perpetuities.


Appellant argued, inter alia, that the testator's gift qualified as a charitable trust and that if the trust was found to violate the rule against perpetuities, the court should apply the doctrine of cy pres provided by Va. Code Ann. § 55-31 (1950) to prevent the trust from failing.


  • The court affirmed the lower court's judgment. 
  • The court reasoned that the testator's dominant intent was expressed in his unequivocal direction to the trustee to divide the income into as many equal parts as there were children beneficiaries and pay one share to each. 
  • The court found that this expressed purpose and intent was inconsistent with the appended direction to each child as to the use of his respective share for educational purposes and that the latter phrase was ineffectual to create an educational trust. 
  • The court determined that the testator's intent was to bestow upon the children gifts that would bring them happiness; however, that fell short of an educational trust. 
  • The court declined to apply § 55-31 because the trust's beneficiaries and purpose were not uncertain or indefinite and no intent to apply the income to educational, charitable, or eleemosynary purposes was disclosed.


The court affirmed the trial court's judgment, which held that the testator's trust was a private trust and was void as violative of the rule against perpetuities.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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