APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Timothy S. Hillman, U.S.
Michael J. Rossi, with whom Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch
& Ford LLP was on brief, for appellants.
Mark Dickison, with whom Ryan A. Ciporkin, Laura S. Sawyer,
and Lawson & Weitzen, LLP, were on brief, for appellee.
Torruella, Lynch, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
an important case about Massachusetts trust law which we
think is better answered by the Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court (SJC). Accordingly, we certify to the SJC
under its Rule 1:03 an unresolved question under both state
common law and state statutes concerning whether a judgment
creditor of the settlor's estate may reach and apply
assets in an irrevocable spendthrift trust after the death of
the self-settlor of the trust.
De Prins brought this reach and apply action against a
Massachusetts spendthrift trust created by his parents'
murderer, Donald Belanger, to enforce an Arizona wrongful
death judgment against Belanger's estate. The parties do
not dispute the relevant facts, which we draw from the
2000, Donald and Ellen Belanger moved from Massachusetts to
Arizona. In 2005, their neighbors Armand and Simonne De Prins
filed a lawsuit against the Belangers and others over shared
water rights. In 2007, the De Prinses obtained a monetary
judgment against the Belangers.
2008, the Belangers moved from Arizona to California. Ellen
Belanger committed suicide there on October 4, 2008,
distressed at least in part about the loss of the lawsuit.
Immediately after Ellen Belanger's death, the
Belangers' daughter, Christina Clark, drove to California
and convinced her father to return to Arizona with her.
week after his wife's suicide, Donald Belanger contacted
his attorney, Michael J. Michaeles, about creating an
irrevocable trust. On October 28, 2008, Belanger created the
Donald A. Belanger Irrevocable Trust Dated October 28, 2008
("the Trust"), a self-settled trust that named
Michaeles as its sole trustee and Belanger himself as its
sole beneficiary during his life. The Trust provided that
Clark would become the sole beneficiary after Belanger's
death. It also contained a spendthrift clause and provided
that Belanger could not "alter, amend, revoke, or
terminate" the Trust. Belanger signed the Trust on
November 3, 2008, and conveyed substantially all of his
assets to Michaeles as trustee.
months after he signed the Trust, on March 2, 2009, Belanger
shot and killed Armand and Simonne De Prins in a Walmart
parking lot in Show Low, Arizona. The next morning, police
stopped Belanger on Interstate 25 in New Mexico. Before the
officer approached Belanger's car, Belanger shot and
who was already the trustee of the Trust, then became
personal representative of Belanger's estate, which he
probated in Arizona.
10, 2010, the De Prinses' son, Harry De Prins ("De
Prins"), brought a wrongful death action in Arizona
state court against Michaeles as personal representative of
Belanger's estate. That action was removed ...