Contingent Remaining Beneficiaries of an Irrevocable Trust Can Seek Judicial Enforcement of its Terms During the Term of the Trust | Charles E. Rounds, Jr. – Suffolk University School of Law
The interest of a trust beneficiary is an equitable ownership interest. It can be a present interest or a future interest and, whether vested or contingent, the interest is property. Even a contingent incident of equitable remainder in the corpus to an ongoing irrevocable trust is infinitely more substantial than a mere expectation. Admittedly, the nomenclature is confusing. Here’s why: A non-possessory contingent future equitable ownership interest related to an ongoing trust relationship, for example, is a future ownership interest that is nonetheless currently enforceable. See, for example, Berry v. Berry, — SW3d — (2022), 65 Tex. Sup. CT. J. 997, 2022 WL 1510330. This is an infinitely more substantial interest than a mere expectation that, within the remaining beneficiary bundle of rights, some rights are, again, currently enforceable. Identifier. The right to request the dismissal of the trustee for just cause, for example. An expectation, on the other hand, is generally not currently enforceable. Think about the disposition in the will of someone who is not yet deceased. A will being testamentary, it speaks only at death. Identifier. What then is the practical significance of all this? In a word: stand up. If a conditional equitable remainder related to an irrevocable mandate were only a mere expectation, the holder would not have standing to seek the execution of the terms of the trust. But it is not a mere expectation. The issue of quality in the trust context is addressed generally in §5.1 of Loring and Rounds: A Trustee’s Handbook (2022), the relevant part of which is reproduced in the appendix below. The handbook itself is currently available for purchase at: https://law-store.wolterskluwer.com/s/product/loring-rounds-a-trustees-handbook-2022e-misb/01t4R00000OVWE4QAP.