United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
ELIZABETH M. WREDE, Plaintiff,
WILLIAM E. CARTER, JR., and ALLISON LEE PILCHARD, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CLIFFORD SHIRLEY, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Rule 73(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
and the consent of the parties, for all further proceedings,
including entry of judgment [Doc. 12].
before the Court is Defendant William Carter, Jr.'s
Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 36] and Defendant Allison
Lee Pilchard's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 39]. The
parties appeared before the Court on December 1, 2016, for a
motion hearing. For the reasons explained below, the Court
finds Defendant Carter's Motion for Summary Judgement
[Doc. 36] to be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART and
Defendant Pilchard's Motion for Summary Judgement [Doc.
39] to be DENIED.
this case involves a sibling dispute over the assets of their
deceased mother. The relevant and undisputed facts are as
Carter is the son of Mrya L. Kravetaz (“Grantor”)
and Allison Pilchard and Elizabeth Wrede are the
Grantor's daughters. [Doc. 38 at 1]. The Grantor settled
the Mrya K. Kravetz Family Trust on February 16, 2004
(“Trust”). Id. Pursuant to the terms of
the Trust, the Grantor had the right to amend, modify, or
revoke the Trust Declaration during her lifetime in whole or
in part “without the consent of any beneficiary and
without giving notice to any beneficiary hereunder, by a
writing signed and acknowledged by the Grantor, to be
effective upon delivery to the Trustee.” [Doc. 38-1 at
14]. Upon the Grantor's death, the Trust Declaration
“shall become irrevocable and not subject to
amendment.” [Doc. 38-1 at 11]. The Grantor nominated
Defendant Carter to serve as the First Alternate Successor
Trustee of the Trust after her death. [Doc. 38-1 at 14].
Pursuant to Article IV of the Trust, after the Grantor's
death and the payment of expenses of any last illness and
funeral costs, “all of the personal property in the
trust estate then in the possession of the successor trustee
or contingent successor trustee shall be sold and all of the
net funds of the sale shall be distributed by the trustee
free of the trust to all of the contingent beneficiaries as
named below share and share alike.” [Doc. 38-1 at 11].
Further, Article V provides as follows:
If any of the named beneficiaries desires to keep any
personal property item of the trust estate, that beneficiary
may do so by having the value of that personal property item
deducted from that persons' share of the net funds of the
estate. In the event that two or more beneficiaries desire
the same item and they cannot agree on the price and/or who
shall have said item, then that item shall be sold and the
funds distributed in the estate.
[Doc. 38-1 at 12]. The parties are the contingent
beneficiaries of the Trust. [Doc. 38-1 at 11]. Finally, the
Trust Declaration states, “This Declaration of Trust
shall be administered and interpreted in accordance with the
laws of the State of California.” [Doc. 38-1 at 16].
time she settled the Trust, the Grantor also executed the
Last Will and Testament of Myra L. Kravetz
(“Will”). [Doc. 38-1 at 96-97]. The Grantor
nominated Defendant Carter as the Executor of the Will, and
she devised and bequeathed her entire estate, whether real
property or personal property, “to be held, managed,
and disposed of in accordance with the provisions of”
the Trust. [Doc. 38-1 at 96].
days after she settled the Trust and executed the Will, the
Grantor also signed a one-page document identifying certain
items of tangible personal property
(“Memorandum”). [Doc. 38-1 at 99]. Specifically,
with respect to “Liz, ” the Memorandum states,
“Remainder of contents in the home.” [Doc. 38-1
at 99]. The parties dispute as to whether the Memorandum is a
valid document. The parties do not dispute, however, that the
Trust Declaration does not reference any tangible personal
property memorandum or direct the successor Trustee to follow
any such memorandum. [Doc. 38 at 4].
December 17, 2014, the Grantor died from carbon monoxide
toxicity which she suffered in a fire at her home in
Knoxville. [Doc. 38 at 4]. The fire caused significant damage
to the house and the tangible personal property found inside.
Id. Between December 20 and 22, 2014, the Defendants
and the Plaintiff's husband met at the house to view the
damage and to begin to sort through the contents.
Id. at 6. In addition, ServPro took various items of
tangible personal property from the house into its possession
in an effort to clean and salvage them. Id. at 7. An
Allstate claims adjuster prepared an inventory of the items
of tangible personal property from the house that could not
be cleaned or salvaged and which would be paid as a casualty
Defendant Carter arranged to meet with ServPro at its
facility in Knoxville on January 24, 2015, to receive the
cleaned items of tangible personal property and distribute
them among the contingent beneficiaries. Id.
Defendant Carter contacted the Plaintiff via text message on
January 14, 2015, and asked if she was available to meet and
review the items of tangible personal property. Id.
at 7-8. The Plaintiff agreed to the meeting. Id. at
however, on January 15, 2015, the Plaintiff became ill and
entered the hospital. Id. The Plaintiff contacted a
representative with ServPro on or about January 23, 2015, and
informed the representative that she could not attend the
meeting the following day. Id. The ServPro
representative contacted Defendant Carter while he was
traveling from Indiana to Tennessee and could only inform him
that one of his sisters was ill and could not attend the
meeting and asked for instructions. Id. There is a
dispute as to whether Defendant Carter attempted to contact
the Plaintiff. Id. see also [Doc. 47 at 6]. In any
event, Defendant Carter proceeded with the scheduled meeting
at the ServPro facility. Id. at 9. Following the
January 24 meeting, various disputes arose between the
Plaintiff and Defendant Carter concerning Defendant
Carter's administration of the Trust. Id.
Complaint was originally filed in Knox County Chancery Court
but removed [Doc. 1] on March 28, 2016, and later amended
[Doc. 23] on August 29, 2016. The Amended Complaint alleges
that Defendant Carter failed to perform duties incumbent upon
him as the Trustee of the Myra L. Kravetz Family Trust.
Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Carter
failed and refused to provide a full and complete record and
accounting of his actions as the Trustee, failed and refused
to include all the assets that must be included in the Myra
L. Kravetz Family Trust, failed to serve as Trustee in a
neutral manner, and depleted and wrongfully spent Trust
assets in favor of those who were not entitled to those
assets. In addition, the Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Pilchard served as an agent of the Trust when Defendant
Carter had to leave town and that during the time she served
as an agent, she removed property that belonged to the
Plaintiff and made distribution of items ...