§ 18-4-24. Termination of small trusts.
(a) Any corporate trustee authorized to serve as a trustee under chapter 3.1 of title 19, which is a trustee of any inter vivos or testamentary trust, may, in its sole discretion, or, if there is a cotrustee or cotrustees, after having obtained the approval of any cotrustee, terminate the trust in whole or in part, if the current market value of the trust principal is less than two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000). The existence of any spendthrift or similar protective provision shall not preclude termination of that trust.
(b)(1) The trust principal and income on hand, less fees and expenses, shall be distributed to one or more beneficiaries and remaindermen, or their legal representative, in the proportions and amounts that the trustee in its discretion determines to be appropriate under the circumstances, giving consideration to the terms of the trust and the interests of the income beneficiaries and remaindermen. The recipient shall release the trustee or trustees from liability upon distribution of the amounts held.
(2) The interest of a minor beneficiary, or any portion of the interest, may be converted into qualifying property and distributed to a custodian pursuant to the Rhode Island Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, chapter 7 of this title, or similar acts in other states.
(3) Any trust qualifying for the marital deduction under appropriate provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., shall be distributed only to the surviving spouse of the decedent or settlor.
(4) Any trust qualifying for the charitable deduction under appropriate provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., shall be distributed only to the appropriate charity or charities or in a manner to assure the continued qualification of the distribution for the charitable deduction. The trustee shall not be required to look into the application by the charity of the amount distributed.
(c)(1) The termination may occur only after written notice sent by certified mail to all interested persons who then have an interest in the trust, or their legal or natural guardians. The term "interested person" means any living person or existing organization who is a current income beneficiary or who would be a vested remainderman of the trust if the trust were to terminate at the time of the notification.
(2) The written notice required by this section shall:
(i) State that the trustee intends to terminate the trust in accordance with this section;
(ii) Include a schedule of current trust assets and describe the plan of distribution;
(iii) Set forth all rights of the interested person to object to the termination or plan of distribution as set forth in subsection (d) of this section; and
(iv) State that the trustee may proceed to terminate the trust, notwithstanding any objection to the termination or plan of distribution.
(d)(1) Any interested person shall have thirty (30) days after receiving written notice in accordance with subsection (c) of this section to object to the termination of the trust or the plan of distribution in writing to the trustee, stating the grounds for the objection. If the trustee has received no written objection to the proposed termination or plan of distribution within the thirty (30) day period, it may proceed to terminate the trust, subject to the waiting period contained in subdivision (4) of this subsection.
(2) A trustee receiving a written objection to the proposed termination or plan of distribution from an interested person within thirty (30) days of the person's receipt of written notice may: (i) reformulate the proposed plan, or (ii) state its intention to proceed with the original plan of distribution. The trustee shall then re-notify all interested persons of its intentions in a writing sent by certified mail. The re-notification shall begin again the thirty (30) day period referred to in subdivision (1) of this subsection.
(3) A trustee receiving a written objection to the proposed reformulated plan of distribution from an interested person within thirty (30) days of the person's receipt of written notice of the reformulated plan may proceed to terminate the trust in accordance with the plan, without court proceeding or approval, notwithstanding the objection, provided that all interested persons have been further notified in writing sent by certified mail of:
(i) The objection;
(ii) The trustee's intention to proceed to terminate the trust, notwithstanding the objection; and
(iii) Their right to petition the superior court to prevent the termination of the trust or to modify the plan of distribution.
(4) Any interested person, within three (3) months of the mailing of the initial or the further notice of the trustee's intention to proceed with the termination, notwithstanding an objection, may petition the superior court to prevent termination or modify the plan of distribution or may send the trustee a written waiver of the right to petition. The trustee shall not distribute the assets of the trust until three (3) months from the date of the receipt by the last interested person to receive notice or the further written notice as provided in subdivision (3) of this subsection.
(e) Superior court approval of a termination of a small trust shall be required whenever there is no corporate trustee. An individual trustee may petition the superior court after notice to all interested persons according to the notice provisions in subsection (c) of this section. The court shall make an order of distribution of the trust property which shall specify the appropriate share of each interested person who is to share in the proceeds of the trust, taking into account the interests of income beneficiaries or remaindermen so as to conform as nearly as possible the intention of the trust or testator. The superior court, in addition, may make any other and further orders that it deems proper or necessary to protect the interests of the beneficiaries and of the trustee. All provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall apply to terminations under this subsection.
(f) Notwithstanding any other provision contained in this section, any corporate trustee of a trust may seek superior court approval of the termination, and after submission of a principal accounting, be released, along with any cotrustee, from all liability with respect to the trust.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 281, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 392, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 434, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 442, § 1.)