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Cessac v. Stevens

District Court of Appeal of Florida
127 So. 3d 675 (2013)


Facts

Sally Christiansen’s father created three trusts, all dated July 30, 1970, in which Christiansen was a beneficiary: (1) the Stanton P. Kettler Trust, FBO, Sally Christiansen; (2) the Inter Vivos Trust; and (3) the Irrevocable Inter Vivos Trust. All three trusts specified that upon Christiansen’s death, trust income and principal should be distributed to such person(s) appointed by Christiansen in her will, “making specific reference to the power herein granted.” Each trust further provided that if Christiansen failed to exercise her power of appointment, Christiansen’s share of the trust would be distributed equally between her two children, Marcia Stevens (plaintiff) and Christopher Evans. Christiansen’s will devised $5,000 to Sharon Peeples and the residuary of her estate to Joanne Cessac (defendant). The will stated that Christiansen’s assets included “the STANTON P. KETTLER TRUST, FBO, SALLY CHRISTIANSEN, under will dated July 30, 1970, currently held at the Morgan Stanley Trust offices in Scottsdale, Arizona, and two (2) currently being held at Northern Trust of Florida in Miami, Florida.” The will made no further references to the trusts. After Christiansen died and her will was admitted to probate in Florida, Stevens filed for a declaration that Christiansen’s share of trust assets should go to Stevens and her brother, because Christiansen had failed to properly exercise her powers of appointment. Agreeing with Stevens, the trial court declared that trust assets were not part of Christiansen’s estate. Cessac [and the personal representative of Christiansen’s estate (defendant)] appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wetherell, J.)

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