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Corya v. Sanders

Florida Court of Appeal, Fourth District

December 7, 2011

Doris Rich CORYA, and as Trustee of the Trust Under Will of Paul Rich, dated December 15, 1944, and Doris Rich Corya and Paul J. Rich Sanders as Trustees of the Trust Under Will of Eleanor M. Rich, dated June 10, 1964, and Doris Rich Corya, as Trustee of other trusts presently unknown, Appellants,
v.
Roy SANDERS and Paul J. Rich, Jr., Appellees.

Rehearing Denied Jan. 10, 2012.

Page 32

Marjorie Gadarian Graham of Marjorie Gadarian Graham, P.A., Palm Beach Gardens, for appellants.

Gary A. Woodfield and Susan B. Yoffee of Haile, Shaw & Pfaffenberger, P.A., North Palm Beach, for appellee Roy Sanders.

WARNER, J.

Appellant challenges a final summary judgment in which the trial court ordered appellant to file accountings for various trusts of which appellant was trustee. Because there are disputed issues of material fact as well as the fact that the appellee, as moving party, failed to negate appellant's affirmative defenses, we reverse.

Appellee, Roy Sanders, is a beneficiary of several trusts that were established by family members, including his grandparents and his stepfather. His mother, Doris Corya, has been trustee of all of the trusts for many years.

The first trust involved in this suit was created by Eleanor Rich, the mother of Doris Corya. Rich executed a will that created trusts for each of her children (Doris and Arthur). The Eleanor Rich trust came into existence in 1974 when Eleanor died. Eleanor's daughter, Doris Sanders (now Corya), was the trust's beneficiary as well as its co-trustee.[1] The trust provided income for life to Doris, with the ability to invade principal for her benefit. Upon her death, the remaining principal was to be divided into equal shares for the children of Doris, including her son Roy.

While not mentioned specifically in the complaint, Roy also claimed to be a beneficiary of the Sanders trust. No copy of that trust is in the record. In a deposition, Doris admitted that her mother set up a trust of municipal bonds for her and then to her children. The trust was created in New York in 1953. She claimed to have given a copy of the trust to Roy's attorneys.

Doris Sanders married John Corya in 1969. The third and fourth trusts involved in this appeal were created by John Corya in 1993. John Corya, a Florida resident, created a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. John was the beneficiary of the revocable trust during his lifetime. Upon his death all trust income was to be paid to Doris Corya. The trustee had authority to invade principal for the benefit of Doris or for the support, health, and education of the beneficiaries who were the children of Doris and step-children of John Corya. However, after a step-child had attained his or her education, the trustee was not to consider disbursements for their benefit unless there was ample principal for the support of Doris or the other children. After Doris's death the remaining trust property was divided between Doris Sanders's children (John Corya's step-children), Roy Sanders, Rich Sanders, and Eleanor Sanders Drury. The irrevocable trust required the trustee to pay income to Doris for life and permitted the trustee, in the trustee's sole discretion, to invade principal for the support, education, and maintenance of a beneficiary. Both the Corya Revocable Trust and Irrevocable Trust contained provisions which permitted Doris to deliver copies of the trust accounting to the beneficiaries. Specifically, it stated:

Accountings by Trustee. The trustee shall prepare an account for each taxable year of each trust, and whenever a Trustee ceases to serve, an account shall be prepared from the time of the last prior account through the end of the period of service. The Trustee shall keep each account available for inspection

Page 33

by and may deliver copies to the beneficiaries eligible within the period covered thereby to receive benefits from the trust which is the subject of said account. (emphasis supplied)

Roy filed a second amended complaint seeking to compel an annual accounting of the four trusts. Doris answered, denying most material allegations and alleging various affirmative defenses, including statute of limitations, and an allegation of waiver and estoppel alleging that the trusts have been in existence thirty years, and by his conduct Roy should be estopped from demanding any accounting prior to 2008. After some discovery, Roy moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion finding that Doris had the duty to provide Roy with periodic written accountings on all the trusts, which she failed to do. The court ordered her to provide accountings for all trusts and granted Roy's motion for attorney's fees, which she was not permitted to use trust funds to pay. She appeals. During the pendency of the appeal, and because this court ...


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