Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Claflin Doctrine

The Claflin doctrine says that a trust cannot be terminated or modified on petition of all beneficiaries if doing so would be contrary to a material purpose of the settlor.

There are four clear situations from this rule that a trust cannot be terminated:

  1. It is a spendthrift trust.
  2. The beneficiary is not to receive the principal until attaining a specified age.
    • Just requiring waiting so many years does not imply a material purpose.
  3. It is a discretionary trust.
  4. It is a trust for the support of the beneficiary.

These are not the only situations though. Any time there is a contrary material purpose, modification or termination is prohibited.

This has since been codified in UTC § 411(b), although not requiring every beneficiary to consent.