MICHAEL J. TONN, ANNE L. QUAST, WILLIAM A. TONN, JR. and CHERYL R. TONN, Petitioners and Appellants,
THE ESTATE OF ELIZABETH SYLVIS, deceased, DANIEL SYLVIS, and KATIE ATKINSON, Respondents and Appellees.
Submitted on Briefs: December 13, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Sixteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Custer, Cause No. DV 2014- Honorable
Michael B. Hayworth, Presiding Judge
Appellants: John R. Christensen, Timothy A. Filz, Joseph L.
Breitenbach, Christensen Fulton & Filz, PLLC, Billings,
Appellees: Susan B. Swimley, Attorney at Law, Bozeman,
G. Sironi, Attorney at Law, Billings, Montana
McGrath Chief Justice.
Michael Tonn, Anne Quast, William Tonn, Jr., and Cheryl Tonn,
in her capacity as trustee (collectively William Heirs),
appeal from a decision by the Sixteenth Judicial District
Court granting The Estate of Elizabeth Sylvis, Daniel Sylvis,
and Katie Atkinson's motion for summary judgment. We
The William Heirs present the following issue for review:
Whether the District Court erred when it declined to
apply Montana's anti-lapse statute (§ 72-2-717(2),
MCA) to the Armond W. Tonn Testamentary Trust.
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Before passing away in 1982, Armond W. Tonn (Armond) executed
his Last Will and Testament, which created two trusts. The
first trust was a marital trust to care for Armond's
wife, Hjordice, during her life. The second trust was for the
benefit of the three children of Armond and Hjordice: William
Tonn, Marc Tonn, and Elizabeth Sylvis. The children's
trust included the "rest, residue, and remainder"
of Armond's estate.
Hjordice passed away in 1991 without naming beneficiaries to
her marital trust, and the principal from the marital trust
was added to the children's trust (Trust). The parties
agree that the principal in the Trust consists of a one-half
interest in a 50, 000-acre ranch. The initial trustee for the
Trust was Armond's brother, Marcus J. Tonn. When Marcus
passed away in 2006, Cheryl Tonn and Elizabeth Sylvis were
appointed co-trustees. The Trust grants broad discretion for
distributions by the Trustee to each of Armond's
Payments from income and principal shall be made in
accordance with the needs of the beneficiaries and not
necessarily equally . . . . It is my intention to give my
Trustee unlimited power to invasion of principal if he deems
it necessary for the proper support, care and education of
any of my children.
Armond and Hjordice's son, William, passed away in 2001.
William was survived by his wife, Cheryl, and three children:
William Tonn Jr., Michael Tonn, and Anne Quast. The William
Heirs are appellants in this case. When William passed away,
there was no distribution of Trust principal to the William
Heirs. The trustee began to distribute one-third of the Trust
income to the William Heirs after William passed away and
two-thirds to Elizabeth a couple years after ...