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Delaware Supreme Court Peierls Opinions

On October 4, 2013, the Delaware Supreme Court issued three related en banc opinions in the Peierls consent petition matters which were the subject of three notable Court of Chancery decisions near the end of 2012.  See IMO: Peierls Family Inter Vivos Trusts, No. 16812 (Del. Oct. 4, 2013); IMO: Ethel F. Peierls Charitable Lead Trust, No. 16811 (Del. Oct. 4, 2013); and IMO: Peierls Family Testamentary Trusts, No. 16810 (Del. Oct. 4, 2013). [Morris Nichols Trusts, Estates and Tax Group’s discussion of the lower court opinions can be found here.] These landmark opinions have a significant impact on the field of Delaware trust law, clarifying when Delaware law governs the administration of trusts migrating to Delaware, the Delaware court’s jurisdiction and its role with respect to trust modifications, instructions and other matters. Most notably, the Court held that absent evidence that a settlor intended that the laws governing the administration of a trust at its inception shall always govern administration, a settlor’s choice of governing law is not absolute and unchangeable. Under the Peierls decisions, Delaware law will govern the administration of any trust that allows for the appointment of a successor trustee without geographic limitation once the Delaware trustee is appointed and the trust is administered in Delaware, unless a choice of law provision expressly provides that another jurisdiction’s laws shall always govern.

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