House Bill 164
151st General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLES 6 AND 12 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO DECEDENTS’ ESTATES AND TRUSTS.
Section 1 of the Act amends subsection (b)(1) of section 12A-103 of Title 6 to remove a reference to testamentary trusts that is either a redundancy or otherwise might conflict with new section 3550 of Title 12 (which is a part of the Act). Section 2 of the Act addresses statutes under Chapter 33 of Title 12 and (i) amends section 3315(b) to make clear that a discretionary interest in a trust is not a property right and to define more clearly what constitutes a discretionary interest, and also to make clear that these clarifications do not affect the standard of review applicable to the discretion of a trustee or other fiduciary; (ii) amends section 3326 to expand its application to the resignation of officeholders (such as advisers under section 3313 or designated representatives under section 3339) and not just to the resignation of trustees; (iii) amends section 3327 to expand its application to the removal of officeholders (such as advisers under section 3313 or designated representatives under section 3339) and not just to the removal of trustees, and to permit other officeholders (in addition to trustors and beneficiaries) to petition to remove an officeholder; (iv) amends section 3331 to expand its application to governing instruments (beyond just wills and trust instruments, such that it is not intended to change the statute’s application to wills and trust instruments); (v) amends section 3339 to make clear that a designated representative begins to serve when the representative is appointed (and not merely when authorized) and has accepted the role (whether by written acceptance or through service or other action signifying acceptance), to prioritize appointment methods (that is, to provide that certain appointment methods are available if a designated representative is not appointed under previously-enumerated methods), to define for what purposes a designated representative may be appointed, to provide that the surviving parent or parents or custodial parent of a minor for whom a designated beneficiary has been appointed must be given notice of such appointment, to enable a trustor to appoint a designated representative to represent and bind beneficiaries who are minors or are otherwise described in paragraph (b)(2) of section 3339 in any nonjudicial matter, to enable a beneficiary to appoint a designated representative to represent and bind such beneficiary in any nonjudicial matter, and to provide that a person accepting appointment as a designated representative submits to personal jurisdiction in this State regarding any matter involving the trust (without precluding other methods of obtaining jurisdiction over the designated representative); (vi) amends section 3342 to make clear that, consistent with section 3303 of Title 12, a trustor may opt out of the application of section 3342 by express reference; and (vii) amends section 3344 to make clear that the statute applies unless a governing instrument expressly provides that a trustor may not be reimbursed by the trust for the trustor’s income tax liability, to expand the scope of permissible reimbursement to include county, metropolitan-region, city, local, foreign, and other income taxes (in addition to state income taxes), and to make clear that the statute does not apply if it would eliminate or reduce a marital or charitable deduction available to any person for state or federal income, gift, or estate tax purposes. Section 3 of the Act addresses statutes under Chapter 35 of Title 12 and (i) amends section 3536 to add to the flush language of subsection (c) to provide that a person who becomes a beneficiary of a trust due to the exercise of a power of appointment by someone other than such person is not considered under this title to be a trustor of a trust—even if the person who so became the beneficiary created and funded the trust and granted the power of appointment of another, such that if the trustor did not otherwise retain a beneficial interest in the trust that was otherwise reachable (e.g., the trustor did not name himself as a beneficiary of the trust at the time it was created), the mere fact that some other person exercises a power of appointment to later make the trustor a beneficiary will not create an interest that is reachable by the trustor’s creditors—which change would abrogate the common law relation back doctrine as it pertains to who is to be deemed the trustor of a trust created upon exercise of a power of appointment, if such doctrine were extant in Delaware, although the applicability of the common law relation back doctrine to this particular issue does not appear to have been adjudicated or acknowledged in any decisional case law in Delaware; (ii) amends section 3545 to add a new subsection (c), which confirms that other writings that create, modify, or revoke trusts and that are not described in subsection (a) of section 3545 are validly executed if they are executed in conformity with subsection (a), but also confirms that subsection (c) does not limit the creation, modification, or revocation of a trust by other means that Delaware law permits, and further confirms that subsection (c) does not apply to trusts formed under Delaware’s Statutory Trust Act and other trusts formed for the purpose of consummating a commercial transaction; and (iii) adds a new section 3550 providing that governing instruments and certain other trust-related documents, if validly executed under the sections of the Delaware Code that apply to those documents, may also be executed under Chapter 12A of Title 6 of the Delaware Code (the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act). Section 4 of the Act provides that Sections 2 and 3 apply to trust whenever created.