Rachins v. Minassian

Rachins v. Minassian, 251 So. 3d 919 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018)


Subsequent to the Minassian v. Rachins decision, described here, the Court was once again faced with the interpretation of the Zaven Minassian Trust Agreement.  This time, the issue was whether the decedent's children had standing to contest the surviving spouse's administration of a trust for their benefit, where the terms of the trust provide that upon the spouse's death, the trust terminates, and the remaining assets are distributed to new trusts for the children's benefit.

The Court found that the children are both beneficiaries and qualified beneficiaries of the trust. They are beneficiaries, because they have a future beneficial interest in the trust, since any remaining property will be disbursed to a new trust for their benefit.  It held that the fact that the remaining property would flow to a new trust for their benefit instead of outright did not preclude them from being beneficiaries under F.S.  736.0103(4). Nor did the fact that spouse's trust would terminate preclude the children from having a beneficial interest in that trust.

The Court also found that the children are qualified beneficiaries under 736.0103(16), even though (1) the spouse's trust terminates upon her death, (2) the children would be distributees of any remaining trust property only through a newly-created trust for their benefit and (3) the spouse had an unlimited power to invade her trust during her life. Thus, despite the fact that the husband intended to prevent his children from challenging the manner in which his spouse spent the money in her trust, they were still qualified beneficiaries entitled to the protections afforded qualified beneficiaries under the Florida Trust Code.

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