Question

Almost a century ago, Henry and Martha Kolb started a family-owned floral business in Storm Lake, Iowa. Both the business and the family grew into prominence. After their grandson, Robert, was tragically killed in a hunting accident, the Kolbs established an agreement with the City of Storm Lake to establish a flower garden in the memory of Robert. The agreement provided for the "establishment, installation and maintenance of a formal flower garden" at a specific location within the city park on the north shore of Storm Lake. The agreement made it clear that the garden was a gift to the city, and that the agreement was to "continue during the period of the trust as created in Henry's Will... providing for the continued maintenance of said formal flower garden." The trust was later supplemented for the addition of a water fountain in the garden. The Robert James Kolb Memorial Trust Fund was finally established in 1970. Henry and Martha established the trust by deeding a quarter section of farmland they owned to their sons "Robert H. Kolb and Norman J. Kolb, as Trustees for the use and benefit of the City of Storm Lake." The warranty deed stated in pertinent part: It is the purpose of the grantors to hereby establish the Robert James Kolb Memorial Trust Fund out of the real estate above described and the proceeds derived from the sale thereof and/or the income derived there from, or any investments created by said trust fund....The said trust fund shall be used in connection with improvements needed for the planting and upkeep of flower beds, such as annuals and perennials of all kinds, also flowering bulbs and rose bushes as may be put upon the tract of real estate hereinafter described. In 1973, Henry and Martha deeded another quarter section of their farmland to their sons, Robert and Norman, as trustees, "for the use and benefit of the City of Storm Lake" to become a "part of the Robert James Kolb Memorial Trust Fund established by the grantors in the year 1970, in order that this trust and the previously established trust may be handled as a single trust." Neither warranty deed stated when the trust terminated. The trust operated without much trouble or question for over 30 years under the direction of Robert and Norman as trustees. The reports indicated the income produced from the farmland was more than enough to pay for the trust expenses. The trust disbursements mainly consisted of farm, garden, and fountain expenses, which often equaled $20,000-$30,000. On one occasion, however, the trustees used surplus trust funds to help the Storm Lake School District purchase additional school property. This transaction was memorialized in a 1980 agreement between Norman and the school district.
Henry died intestate in 1978 and Martha died a short time later. Despite their deaths, the garden and fountain survived for many years with the help of the city's maintenance and funds provided by the trust. It was a cherished location in Storm Lake, and often provided an ideal spot for weddings and celebrations. In 2003, however, the existence of the garden and fountain was placed in jeopardy. At this time the city was developing plans for an economic revitalization project called "Project Awaysis," funded with Vision Iowa grant money. The plans sought to turn the city's park on the north shore of Storm Lake and surrounding areas into a Midwest vacation destination. Among other things, the project was to provide a new public beach, a lighthouse, a family playground, a lodge, and an indoor/outdoor water park. Most importantly, the plans called for relocating the memorial gardens and fountain within the city's park. The project was viewed by its planners, and others, as a vital and necessary move for the city to grow and compete for jobs and residents in the future. Norman, as trustee of the Kolb trust, filed a petition for an injunction preventing the removal of the garden and fountain. The trial court ruled against Norman on the injunction and the city began the removal of the garden and fountain. After a later trial, however, the court found that the trust's purpose had been destroyed and that it therefore became a resulting trust to benefit the Kolbs' successors. Was this ruling correct?



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  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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