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Reed v. Reed

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

February 13, 2018

BOBBY REED
v.
WILLIE KATE REED ET AL.

          Session September 12, 2017

         Appeal from the Chancery Court for Greene County No. 20140158 Douglas T. Jenkins, Chancellor.

         This appeal involves the interpretation and construction of a trust agreement. John Marion Reed and his wife Willie Kate Reed, in the process of their estate planning, executed a revocable living trust agreement. They conveyed approximately 204.61 acres of real property to the trust. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Reed died testate. The trust was the sole residual beneficiary of his will. Mrs. Reed, the successor trustee, distributed all of the real estate in the trust to herself by way of a quitclaim deed. She then terminated the trust. Bobby Reed, her son and a beneficiary of the trust, filed this action alleging that Mrs. Reed exceeded her authority under the terms of the trust agreement. He asked the trial court to order an accounting of the assets of the trust that had been distributed by Mrs. Reed since her husband's death. He sought the return to the trust of the assets wrongfully distributed. The trial court held that Mrs. Reed did not have the authority to transfer all of the real estate in the trust. Accordingly, the court voided the quitclaim deed, and granted the requested relief of Bobby Reed. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Cheryl E. LaNasa and Mark W. McFall, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willie Kate Reed, Executrix of the Estate of John Marion Reed and Trustee of the John Marion Reed and Willie Kate Reed Living Trust, and Cindy Kinley.

          Jerry W. Laughlin, Greeneville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bobby Reed.

          Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Thomas R. Frierson, II, J., joined.

          OPINION

          CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE.

         I.

         The Reeds executed the trust agreement on November 15, 2000. Mr. Reed executed his will the same day. On January 3, 2001, the Reeds conveyed a total of approximately 204.61 acres of real estate to the trust by four quitclaim deeds. Two of the deeds were executed jointly. Mr. and Mrs. Reed each executed one deed separately. Mr. Reed died on May 27, 2001. His will designates Mrs. Reed as executor and further provides in pertinent part as follows:

I give any interest I have in all personal automobiles, clothing, jewelry, china, silver, books, pictures, and other works of art, household furniture and furnishings and all other items of domestic, household or personal use to wife, if she survives me.
All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, . . . including all of my separate property, if any, and my share of the jointly held property of my wife and myself, I give, devise and bequeath to the individual or bank then acting as Trustee under the certain Trust Agreement designated as The John Marion Reed and Willie Kate Reed Trust, signed earlier this day and bearing the same date as this Last Will and Testament, of which my wife and I are Co-Trustors and Co-Trustees, to be combined with the other assets of the trust and held, administered and distributed as a part of that trust, according to the terms thereof and any amendments made to it prior to my death.

         On March 27, 2002, Mrs. Reed, purporting to act in her capacity as executor, transferred an additional 76 acres of real estate to the trust. A week later, she conveyed all of the real property held by the trust to herself individually. She then terminated the trust.

         Plaintiff brought this action on December 5, 2014, alleging that Mrs. Reed "wrongfully, and without authority, conveyed to herself all of the real estate in [the] Trust, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars." Also named as a defendant was Cindy Kinley, his sister and holder of a power of attorney for Mrs. Reed. He further alleged that

[t]he Plaintiff, as one of the vested remainder beneficiaries of the Trust . . . is entitled to an accounting of the disposition of the assets of John Marion Reed at the time of his death as well as the assets then in The John Marion Reed and Willie Kate Reed Living Trust, and to the return to said Trust of any assets that have been wrongfully ...

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