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Hoffpauir v. Cormier

Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, Beaumont

September 19, 2019

DARLENE ANN HOFFPAUIR, Appellant
v.
ROBERT P. CORMIER, ET AL, Appellees

          Submitted on August 21, 2019

          On Appeal from the 60th District Court Jefferson County, Texas Trial Cause No. B-201,069-A

          Before McKeithen, C.J., Kreger and Horton, JJ.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES KREGER JUSTICE.

         Robert P. Cormier, individually, and Robert P. Cormier and David Olson, in their positions as co-trustees to the Paul J. Cormier Family Trust for the benefit of Robert P. Cormier and the Paul J. Cormier Family Trust GST Exempt for the benefit of Robert P. Cormier, filed a Petition for Modification of Trust Agreement.[1] Robert sought to modify the terms of the trust agreement created by Paul Cormier on November 12, 1993, and each of the subtrusts created thereunder pursuant to Texas Property Code section 112.054(a). See Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 112.054(a) (West Supp. 2018). Co-trustees of Trusts for the benefit of Carlene Cormier subsequently intervened seeking modification consistent with Robert's requested relief and sought a declaratory judgment to that effect. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the requested modification. Darlene Ann Hoffpauir, a beneficiary of the trusts, appeals the trial court's Order Directing the Modification of Trust Agreement. We affirm the trial court's Order Directing the Modification of Trust Agreement.

         Background

         On November 12, 1993, Paul Cormier created the "Paul J. Cormier Family Trust." Paul established the trust for the benefit of his three children, Carlene Ann Swensen, Darlene Ann LeFleur (Hoffpauir), and Robert P. Cormier. Paul named Robert and W.T. Edgar co-trustees. The original trust agreement divided the initial Trust Estate into three equal shares, "one for the benefit of each Beneficiary." The terms of the original trust agreement provided that ten years after the end of the month in which Paul died, the principal and income of the trust should be delivered to the beneficiaries. Paul died on October 30, 2009, and thereafter, additional assets were added to the corpus of the Trust and the Trust Estate was split into six separate subtrusts for tax purposes in satisfaction of the trust terms. These subtrusts are as follows:

1. Paul J. Cormier Family Trust fbo Robert P. Cormier;
2. Paul J. Cormier GST Exempt fbo Robert P. Cormier;
3. Paul J. Cormier Family Trust fbo Carlene A. Cormier;
4. Paul J. Cormier GST Exempt fbo Carlene A. Cormier;
5. Paul J. Cormier Family Trust fbo Darlene Hoffpauir; and
6. Paul J. Cormier GST Exempt fbo Darlene Hoffpauir.

         In their Petition for Modification of Trust Agreement, Appellees contended there were two specific and material purposes of the Trust. First, they argued that the Grantor created the trust to provide spendthrift and creditor protection for the trust estate. They point out that those provisions are designed to ensure the assets held by the Trustees are safeguarded from creditor claims and are available to provide for the support, ...


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