On June 4, 2015, the First Department issued a decision in Connery v. Sultan, 2015 NY Slip Op. 04750, holding that a trustee may bring an action on behalf of a trust in his own name, without identifying himself as trustee.
In Connery, the defendant moved to vacate a default judgment, and to dismiss the complaint, on the ground that the plaintiff, who was in fact a trustee suing on behalf of the trust, brought the suit in his own name. The First Department found that the trustee had acted properly and affirmed the motion court’s denial of the motion. The Court explained:
Contrary to defendant’s argument, a trustee may maintain an action against another as he could maintain if he held the trust property free of trust. It is unnecessary for the trustee in the pleadings or other proceedings to describe himself as trustee. He can proceed in the action as though he were the owner of the claim which he is enforcing. If he does describe himself as trustee the description is treated as mere surplusage.
(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).