FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
VERMILION, NO. 98814 HONORABLE EDWARD D. RUBIN, DISTRICT
G. Garrot, III COUNSEL FOR: Plaintiff/Appellee - Succession
of Keffer Thomas Delino, II
Lawrence L. Lewis, III Onebane Law Firm, APLC COUNSEL FOR:
Defendant/Appellant - Carole Delino Niebler
G. Moresi, III COUNSEL FOR: Defendants/Appellants - The Jake
Delino Trust and James D. Delino, Jr.
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, John D.
Saunders, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges. REVERSED.
ULYSSES GENE THIBODEAUX CHIEF JUDGE
the succession representative of the Succession of Keffer
Thomas Delino, II, filed suit against the defendants, the
Jake Delino Trust (Trust), Carole Delino Niebler (Carole),
and James D. Delino, Jr. (Jimmy), seeking to annul a transfer
of trust interest. Created in the testament of James D.
Delino, Sr. (James), the Trust named both Jimmy and his
brother, Keffer Thomas Delino, II (Keffer), income
beneficiaries for life and directed the trustee, upon their
deaths, to distribute the corpus of the trust to their
"legal heirs." After Keffer's passing, a
one-half interest in the corpus was transferred to Jimmy
subject to a lifetime usufruct in favor of their mother,
Carole, as directed by our law on intestacy. The trial court,
however, found that Keffer's universal legatee was his
only legal heir and granted the motion to annul the transfer.
the Trust in accordance with the law in effect at the time of
its creation, we find that the trial court legally erred in
his judicial construction of the term "legal heir"
and in his annulment of the transfer of trust interest.
Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's judgment in its
defendants entreat us to consider:
(1) whether the trial court erred in refusing to consider the
testamentary intent of James D. Delino, Sr. in creating the
Jake Delino Trust and in regard to his disposition of the
principal interest of the deceased income beneficiary in the
corpus of the trust;
(2) what was the testamentary intent of James D. Delino, Sr.
in instructing in his will that the principal interest in the
corpus of the Jake Delino
Trust attributable to the deceased beneficiary would go to
the deceased beneficiary's "legal heirs";
(3) whether the trial court erred in its determination of the
meaning of the phrase "legal heirs" in James D.
Delino, Sr.'s last will and testament;
(4) in view of the above issues, whether the trial court
erred in annulling the Transfer of Trust Interest;
(5) whether the trial court erred in holding that Keffer
Thomas Delino, II's interest in the Jake Delino Trust was
an asset of his succession that passed under his will to his
universal legatee, Brent Andrew Griffin; and
(6) whether the trial court erred in its finding that there
was no language in James Delino, Sr.'s will signifying
that he wanted to preclude his sons from leaving their
estates at death to a third party (a non-Delino)?
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
17, 1989, James executed his last will and testament in which
he provided that, upon his death, the vast majority of his
estate would go into a spendthrift trust. He named as income
beneficiaries his two sons, Keffer and Jimmy. The testament
further provided that, upon the death of the first income
beneficiary, the deceased beneficiary's interest in the
Trust would terminate, and the Trust would continue as to the
surviving income beneficiary until his death. Upon the
termination of the Trust as to any interest, James directed
the trustee to distribute the proportionate part of the trust
corpus to the "legal heirs" of the deceased income
beneficiary. In relevant part, the testament provided:
If it has not already been done, at my death I establish a
trust to be called the Jake Delino Trust. I appoint my
sister, Alfreda Delino as Trustee to serve until her death or
incapacity. When that occurs, I ...