In Hoffpauir v. Cormier, parties sought to modify the terms of a trust agreement under Texas Property Code section 112.054(a) to extend the trust’s term. No. 09-18-00358-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 8473 (Tex. App.—Beaumont August 21, 2019, no pet. history). After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the modification. A pro se beneficiary appealed but failed to have the reporter’s record prepared.
The court of appeals summarily affirmed due to an inadequate record. The court first set forth the standard of review for a suit to modify a trust: “We review an order modifying the terms of a trust under an abuse of discretion standard.” Id. The court noted that “[T]he appellant bears the burden to supply this Court with a complete record demonstrating the trial court abused its discretion.” Id. “Appellate courts generally presume pretrial hearings are non-evidentiary and that the trial court only considered evidence filed with the clerk. However, if the proceeding’s nature, the trial court’s order, the parties’ briefs, or other indications show that an evidentiary hearing took place, then the complaining party must present a record of the hearing to establish harmful error.” Id. The court held that multiple indicators showed that the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the modification of the trust agreement. The court then held that “When a party fails to make the reporter’s record part of the appellate record, we presume sufficient evidence was presented to support the trial court’s finding and judgment.” Id. The court then concluded: “Here, Hoffpauir complains of the trial court’s order allowing for modification of the trust agreement following an evidentiary hearing, but she has failed to present us with the reporter’s record of the hearing. Therefore, we presume the trial court properly conducted the hearing on July 17, 2018, and sufficient evidence was presented for the trial court to make all necessary findings.” Id. The court affirmed the modification.