CONCORD – A lower court judge was right to cut one of millionaire developer Samuel Tamposi, Sr.’s daughter out of the family fortune, the state Supreme Court ruled this week.
The Court upheld the decision of a probate court to dismiss a complaint brought by Elizabeth “Betty” Tamposi, the disinherited daughter of the late Samuel Tamposi, Sr. The probate court also was correct in removing Julie Shelton as a trustee appointed by Betty Tamposi, the Supreme Court ruled.
Betty Tamposi had been cut of out of the family fortune because she and Shelton had challenged terms of Samuel Tamposi Sr.’s trust, against the terms of the trust itself, according to court documents.
Samuel Tamposi, Sr., died on May 25, 1995.
The Supreme Court ruling, dated Jan. 11, also remanded the case back to probate court to consider the issue of attorney’s fees, which the probate court had ordered Shelton and Betty Tamposi to pay.
Betty Tamposi and Shelton, of Chicago, filed suit in Hillsborough County Probate Court in October 2007 challenging terms of the Samuel Tamposi Sr. trust. Betty Tamposi also filed suit In Massachusetts in September 2007 over the family’s Boston Red Sox holdings. Samuel Tamposi Sr. had been a part owner of the baseball team.
Shelton had reluctantly agreed to act as trustee as a favor to Betty Tamposi, a friend of 30 years, although she had no experience in trust law, according to court records.
At the time of Samuel Tamposi’s death, the family held some 400 properties in New Hampshire and Florida, worth roughly $70 million. Their debts totaled roughly $50 million, however.
Tamposi directed that after he died, his trust fund would be divvied up into 12 separate but equal trusts for each of the six children: Samuel Jr., Michael, Elizabeth, Nicholas, Celina and Stephen.
Each of the six siblings got a “generation-skipping trust” and a trust in his or her own name, all managed by a single trustee who could use both the net income and principal to provide for them and their children. Generation- skipping trusts allow people to pass assets directly to grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
Tamposi also included a “no contest” or “in terrorem” clause, a provision found more commonly in wills than in trusts.
The clause states that anyone who challenges the legality of the trust or disputes its provisions will forfeit any right to benefit from the trust.
Betty Tamposi objected to the terms of the trust almost immediately, including the fact that her two older brothers managed the trust, according to court documents.
Attorneys for Shelton and Tamposi argued the appeal of the 2007 court decision before the Supreme Court on July 13, 2012.
In their appeal, Betty Tamposi and Shelton argued that the probate court erred, in part, by ruling that Elizabeth Tamposi violated the “in terrorem” clause by filing the complaint.
The probate court had also erred by ordering Shelton to pay the attorneys’ fees and by removing Shelton from her position as trustee, the plaintiffs argued.
The Supreme Court, however, rejected those arguments.
Supreme court rules against former Tamposi heir cut out of late developer’s trust
February 1, 2013