final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Mindy S.
Glazer, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 17-1874.
Nguyen Law Firm and Hung V. Nguyen and Jacobeli J. Behar, for
Pitney/Richman Greer and Charles H. Johnson, Alan G. Greer
and Katherine A. Coba, for appellee.
SALTER and LINDSEY, JJ., and LEBAN, Senior Judge.
Meliha Reno (the "Appellant"), a niece of the late
Janet Reno ("Ms. Reno"), appeals a final judgment
and order modifying the Janet Reno Revocable Trust
("Trust") created by Ms. Reno before her death. The
appellees are James Alan Hurchalla, (Ms. Reno's nephew
and the successor trustee to Ms. Reno for the Trust
("Successor Trustee")), and five living
beneficiaries under the Trust (also children of Ms.
Reno's siblings) who have not objected to the
modification of the Trust and have not appealed the final
judgment and order under review.
probate case below and this appeal concern Ms. Reno's
historically significant homestead property (the "Reno
Homestead") and her charitable intention to see the home
and surrounding, undeveloped acreage preserved in perpetuity.
When her originally-designated charitable donee (the
University of Miami) for the Reno Homestead rejected the
terms of the bequest after Ms. Reno's death, the
Successor Trustee and other family members (other than the
Appellant) sought to effectuate Ms. Reno's charitable
intent through the trust doctrine of cy pres and a transfer of
the Reno Homestead to nearby Miami Dade College instead of
the University of Miami. We affirm the final judgment
authorizing that transfer.
Issues and Procedural History
Appellant contends that the Successor Trustee must sell the
Reno Homestead pursuant to Article V of the Trust, a duty
allegedly triggered by the fact that each of Ms. Reno's
brothers, Mark W. Reno and Robert M. Reno ("the
Brothers") predeceased Ms. Reno.
Successor Trustee and the five other appellees contend, and
the trial court found, that a provision within Article VI of
the Trust specifically controls the charitable transfer of
the Reno Homestead because the Trust "still owned"
the Reno Homestead at the date of Ms. Reno's death. Our
task on review is made considerably easier by the
professionalism of counsel for the parties. Counsel
stipulated in the trial court proceeding that the trust
language is unambiguous and the parties' differing
textual readings could be decided on the papers presented to
the trial court.
trial court agreed with the parties that the Trust terms were
unambiguous, and agreed with the Successor Trustee that
Article VI.C. of the Trust was controlling because the Reno
Homestead was "still owned by the Trust" at the
date of Ms. Reno's death. When the University of Miami
advised the Successor Trustee of its inability to accept the
gift and the attendant conditions (preservation "in
perpetuity" of the Reno Homestead and its unique
character and history), the Successor Trustee sought
authorization to effectuate the charitable transfer and its
conditions with another non-profit charitable and educational
institution, Miami Dade College.
trial court found, and the Appellant does not dispute, that
Miami Dade College is prepared to accept the conditions in
the "Real Estate Transfer and Preservation
Agreement" required to effectuate the charitable gift
and Ms. Reno's intentions evidenced by the language of
Article VI of the Trust. The trial court then determined
"that a substitution of Miami Dade College for the
University of Miami under [these] circumstances is authorized
by Florida ...