Brinker v. Wobaco Trust Ltd.

610 S.W.2d 160 (1980)

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Brinker v. Wobaco Trust Ltd.

Texas Court of Appeals
610 S.W.2d 160 (1980)

SC

Facts

Norman and Maureen Brinker were married and had two children, Cynthia and Brenda (plaintiffs). Norman and Maureen created an inter vivos trust, naming Norman as the settlor and “the issue of the settlor” as beneficiaries. In 1969, Maureen died. Her will directed that her residuary estate be deposited into the trust. In 1971, Norman married Magrit, and the couple had two children, Christina and Mark. In 1973, Norman transferred a portion of Maureen’s residuary estate to a new trust he had created in favor of Christina and Mark. In 1977, Norman and Magrit divorced, and Norman began to reconsider the new trust. Cynthia and Brenda filed a petition asking the trial court to reform the original trust in light of these second thoughts. Cynthia and Brenda argued that Norman and Maureen intended that the trust benefit the issue of their marriage only, and that if the written document did not convey that intent, it was a mistake in need of judicial reformation. Norman was still living at the time of the petition, but the trial court declined to admit evidence of Norman and Maureen’s intent or to otherwise reform the trust. Cynthia and Brenda appealed. On appeal, Cynthia and Brenda presented Norman’s testimony that he and Maureen intended the trust to be for only Cynthia and Brenda. Norman testified that he had relied on his lawyer to draft the trust and had not known what the word “settlor” meant. In addition, Cynthia and Brenda presented testimony of the lawyer who drafted the trust. The lawyer testified that he knew Norman and Maureen intended the trust to benefit only Cynthia and Brenda and that he intended to draft the trust to carry out that intent. The lawyer acknowledged, however, that Norman and Maureen had not specifically asked him to omit any future children.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cornelius, C.J.)

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