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As a practical matter, notwithstanding expressions in the document, the majority stockholders, as grantors, retained complete control over the corporations and distribution therefrom as well as their own actions as "trustees." As a practical matter, notwithstanding the use of the word "irrevocable" in the document, the grantors retained complete power to dissolve the agreement by mutual consent of the eight, without more, and notwithstanding the clauses by which the beneficial interest would devolve upon certain persons or the "heirs" during life or lives in being, the beneficiaries had no interest according to the express words of the document, but the legal and equitable title was vested in the "trustees," who were the same identical persons who were grantors, and therefore were under absolute control of the grantors.
If the government is to be deprived of taxes by an instrument so drawn, it would seem the Court was at least entitled to examine its terms even if the agents of the government failed to argue the points which seem so clear upon a reading of the document.
Local law should be left to the local courts, as this instance proves anew.
After the Tax Court had rendered its first opinion, they were confronted squarely with another deliberate formulation of rule by the Supreme Court of California apparently diametrically opposed to the position which the majority of the Tax Court had taken in this case. It is true the question of construction, which the California courts would place upon the document of so-called "trust," is collateral and extraneous.
The provision which commits the management of the enterprise by unanimous agreement to Norman Chandler, as president and general manager, sets out a proper objective in business.4 Great newspapers are thereby released under independent management from economic and governmental control to exemplify the freedom of the press, a cornerstone of our political system. It is necessary to decide only whether the stockholder-transferor-transferees shall assist in bearing the common burden of taxation, together with other persons who do not receive their income from amassed property.
The fact that a business purpose was subserved is not alone controlling.
Here the petitioners,2 as stockholders, controlled the two corporations involved. III of the trust instrument vest at death such an interest in the corpus as heirs generally take under California law. IV fixes the termination of the trust upon the death of the last survivor of 21 named individuals. Corpus could not pass at death to the heirs-at-law generally as the Supreme Court of California in the Bixby case said would be necessary to give trustors such rights of control as would make them in effect owners of the corpus. "Nor could the trustors under the power of appointment reserved to them in Art. Should an attempt be made under the power of appointment to appoint corpus to heirs generally at death, the possession and control thereof would be held in abeyance until the death of the last survivor of the 21 named individuals.Unquestionably, it is a valid contract with consideration binding mutually on the signatories individually.Until abrogated by unanimous agreement, it assures voting control3 of the two corporations by the family group and a unity of management policy, a business purpose in the public interest.