Hanson v. Denckla

357 U.S 235 (1958)


Mrs. Donner, who resided in Pennsylvania, established a trust in Delaware with a Delaware bank as trustee. Donner was to be the income beneficiary during her lifetime, and after her death, the money would go to her beneficiary. Donner retained the power to change her beneficiary. Donner then moved to Florida. While there she drafted a will naming her two daughters as primary heirs. She also named two of her grandchildren as the beneficiaries of her trust. The two children were the daughters of her third daughter, Elizabeth. Donner died and her first two daughters, named as primary heirs, brought suit in Florida against the Delaware trust company (D). They claimed that the appointment of the grandchildren as beneficiaries was invalid. They wanted the trust money ($400,000) to be placed into the estate for probate. While the first action in Florida was pending, another action was filed in Delaware to determine the status of the trust monies. The Florida court held the trust invalid and ruled that the money belonged to the estate. The two daughters then tried to enter the Florida judgment in Delaware are res judicata. Delaware held that the Florida courts did not have jurisdiction over the trust company. Delaware then determined that the trust was valid. The parties involved contested whether Delaware or Florida had jurisdiction over the trust assets and whether Florida could acquire jurisdiction over the trustee in Delaware. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.