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Bernal v. Marin
Florida District Court of Appeal
196 So. 3d 432 (2016)
Renee Zintgraff executed Zintgraff’s Revocable Living Trust in 2004, naming herself as the initial trustee and her cousin, Christiane Marin (defendant), as the successor trustee. The trust’s corpus was comprised of Zintgraff’s residence and her Wells Fargo brokerage account. Zintgraff reserved her right to revoke the trust but did not specify a revocation method. In 2008, Zintgraff executed her will and appointed Oscar Bernal (plaintiff) as her personal representative and sole beneficiary. The 2008 will stated that it revoked all previous “wills and trust” but did not specifically name the 2004 trust or specifically devise the trust’s assets. Following Zintgraff’s death, Bernal submitted the 2008 will to probate, arguing that it revoked the 2004 trust and that the trust’s assets were therefore part of the probate estate. Sara Saba, the attorney who drafted the 2008 will, testified Zintgraff intended to revoke the 2004 trust and instead grant all her assets to Bernal. Saba further testified that the reference to “trust” in the 2008 will’s revocation language was a reference to the 2004 trust; Saba did not list the 2004 trust by name because Zintgraff never gave her a copy. Gary Tacon, a close friend of Zintgraff’s, submitted an affidavit stating that Zintgraff had a strained relationship with her family and wanted her entire estate to pass to Bernal in gratitude for the companionship and care he had given her in the years preceding her death. Marin challenged, arguing the 2008 will did not validly revoke the 2004 trust. The trial court held that the 2008 will did not revoke the 2004 trust because it failed to specifically name the 2004 trust. Bernal appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rothenberg, J.)
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