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In re the Matter of Hunn.

2024 COA 51. No. 23CA1083. Colorado Uniform Trust Code—CRS § 15-5-602(3)—Revocation or Amendment of Revocable Trust.

May 9, 2024

Hunn owned real property (the property) that he transferred in 2017 to the Thomas E. Hunn Living Trust (the 2017 trust). The 2017 trust provides that upon Hunn’s death, the trustee is to distribute the property to Hunn’s daughter Beightel and, as relevant here, that Hunn could revoke or amend it “by a writing delivered to trustee during the life of the settlor.” Later in 2017 Hunn was injured in an automobile accident, and Beightel became the successor trustee. In 2021, Hunn created the Thomas E. Hunn 2021 Separate Property Trust (the 2021 trust) in California. That day he also executed a pour-over will and a quitclaim deed transferring any interest he had in the property to the 2021 trust, which provided that the property would be distributed to his wife Liu when he died. Hunn died in 2022. Beightel filed a “Trust Registration Statement” for the 2017 trust in Mesa County District Court and recorded a trustee’s deed in Mesa County, purporting to transfer the property to herself, and moved the district court to approve the transfer of the property. Liu filed a response, arguing that Beightel’s transfer of the property was revoked and superseded under CRS § 15-5-602(3), and that the property was an asset of the 2021 trust at the time of Beightel’s purported transfer and thus was to be distributed to Liu upon Hunn’s death. The district court found that Hunn had never delivered a writing to Beightel revoking or amending the 2017 trust, and it granted Beightel’s motion to approve the transfer of the property.

On appeal, Liu argued that even though Hunn didn’t strictly comply with the 2017 trust’s specified method of revocation, he validly revoked or amended the 2017 trust under CRS § 15-5-602(3)(b) by a “method manifesting clear and convincing evidence of the settlor’s intent.” Under CRS § 15-5-602(3), if a trust does not expressly make the manner of revocation exclusive or does not provide any method of revocation, the settlor may revoke the trust in any manner clearly and convincingly evidencing the settlor’s intent to do so. This statute abrogates the common law rule that if a trust provides that it may be revoked in a particular way, it may be revoked only in the manner specified by its terms, even if those terms don’t expressly make that manner of revocation exclusive. Here, in granting Beightel’s motion to approve transfer of property, the district court apparently assumed that Hunn could revoke the 2017 trust only by strictly complying with the method specified in that trust. But the district court didn’t first determine under § 15-5-602(3)(b) whether the 2017 trust expressly makes exclusive the “writing delivered to trustee” method of revocation. Therefore, the district court must determine whether Hunn revoked or amended the 2017 trust to the extent of the inclusion of the property by “any other method manifesting clear and convincing evidence of [his] intent” to do so.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.


Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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