Wills, Trusts, and Estates, Pages 597–599

In re Gleeson's Will

Appellate Court of Illinois, 1955

Facts:

Decedent died testate, leaving, among other things, 160 acres of farm land in Christian County, Illinois in trust for the benefit of her three children, one of whom was incompetent. She appointed petitioner as executor and trustee.

She had, for two years before her death, (it sounds like orally) leased the land to a partnership comprising petitioner and Curtin. After her death, they held over and continued farming it and paying an increased amount on the lease. The next year, he then leases the land to another tenant.

The respondents filed objections.

Procedural History:

The Circuit Court overruled the objection of the respondents.

Issue:

Can a trustee renew a lease the decedent made with him?

Rule:

Generally, a trustee cannot deal as trustee with himself personally.

Petitioner's Argument:

Although generally this would be impermissible, the circumstances here make should constitute and exception. This was only 15 days before the lease expiration and farm tenants can be hard to come by on such short notice. Petitioner and Curtin had planted the field in wheat the fall before that they still had to harvest that summer. Petitioner made the deal openly and honestly, and it was all in the best interest of the trust.

Reasoning:

There is no evidence that petitioner even tried to find a suitable replacement tenant. He discussed staying on the farm and paying a higher rate with the two competent beneficiaries, which shows he was not trying replace himself.

Petitioner not being able to harvest would not have harmed the trust. The trust could have paid petitioner for the wheat.

Petitioner acting in good faith is no justification. He had to decide between acting as trustee and acting as tenant.

Holding:

No, a trustee cannot deal with himself. Reversed and remanded.


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