Session April 15, 2019
from the Chancery Court for Knox County No. 76389-2 Robert E.
Lee Davies, Senior Judge.
probate proceeding, the trial court applied the no contest
provision of the will to prevent the beneficiary from
inheriting under the will, holding that certain actions and
issues raised by the beneficiary triggered the provision. The
court also imposed sanctions pursuant to Rule 11.03 of the
Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure against the disinherited
beneficiary and her attorney for filing an improper lien on
real property of the decedent and in refusing to remove the
lien, thereby requiring the estate to seek judicial relief.
The beneficiary and her attorney appeal the application of
the no contest clause and the imposition of sanctions. Upon
our review, we discern no error warranting reversal and
accordingly, affirm the judgments of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Emmet Kaufman, Atlanta, Georgia, for the appellant, Yarboro
du M. Caffey-Knight and John Towers Rice, Knoxville,
Tennessee, for the appellee, Brian Krebs.
F. Lloyd, Knoxville, Tennessee, Pro Se. 
Richard H. Dinkins, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Thomas R. Frierson, II,
RICHARD H. DINKINS, JUDGE.
Yarboro Lloyd died on May 14, 2015, in Knoxville, Tennessee,
at the age of 83; she was survived by her husband, Brown
Lloyd, and two daughters from a previous marriage, Yarboro
Ann Sallee and Yancey Krebs. Ms. Lloyd died testate, and her
will named her husband as Personal Representative and her
son-in-law, Brian Krebs, as successor Personal
Representative. On May 19, 2015, Mr. Lloyd executed an
affidavit declining to serve as Personal Representative and
consenting to the appointment of Mr. Krebs; on June 8, Mr.
Krebs filed a petition to admit the will to probate, and the
will was duly admitted and letters testamentary issued to him
on June 9.
October 30, 2015, Ms. Sallee, who is an attorney and
proceeded pro se, filed a pleading which consisted
of three motions; one was entitled "Motion for Full
Accounting by Executor of All Financial Matters Including the
Matter of the Million Dollar Appeal of Benefits My Mother
Owned of Over One Million Dollars", one entitled
"Motion for Quantum Meruit Payment for Work Performed by
Attorney Sallee for Three Years in Benefits Million Dollar
Case", and one entitled "Motion to Compel the
Production of All Materials and Files Related to the
Motions." The Personal Representative responded to the
motions on February 2, 2016; pertinent to the issues raised
in this appeal, the response states:
TO MOTION FOR FULL ACCOUNTING
3. The Movant is not, in her individual capacity, a
beneficiary under the Will. The Movant is the beneficiary of
demonstrative bequests of personal effects pursuant to a
writing left by the Decedent in accordance with Article I,
Paragraph C of the Will, a copy of which was filed with the
Court along the original Will. The Personal Representative
intends to comply with wishes of the Decedent as set forth in
this writing. Accordingly, the Movant lacks standing to
request said accounting.
4. Further, as to the issue of the Movant's entitlement
to an accounting, the Personal Representative notes that: (i)
the Movant is the beneficiary of a trust which is merely the
recipient of a specific devise of real property under Article
I, Paragraph A of the Will, (ii) said specifically devised
real estate is part of the probate estate pursuant to the
fifth paragraph of Article II, (iii) the decedent was
survived by her husband, Brown F. Lloyd, and accordingly the
sole beneficiary of the Decedent's residuary estate under
Paragraph III, Paragraph A, is a trust of which the
decedent's husband is the current beneficiary.
TO MOTION FOR QUANTUM MERUIT
1. The Motion as filed does not constitute a valid claim
against the Decedent's estate under T.C.A.
§30-2-307 as it does not include an itemized statement
of account, copy of the written instrument or certified
judgment or decree as required by TC.A.
§30-2-307(b), does not appear to have been filed in
triplicate as required by T.C.A. §30-2-307(c)
and as a purported claim is void ab initio.
2. A copy of the Notice to Creditors was provided to the
Movant on November 17, 2015 via both certified mail return
receipt requested (which was returned as unclaimed) and
regular U.S. Mail, a copy of which is attached as Exhibit
B. To date, no claim has been filed, and the time for
filing a valid claim pursuant to T.C.A.
§30-2-307 has passed. Accordingly, any claim which might
subsequently be filed against the Estate by the Movant on
quantum merit or any other matter on any grounds is
the next eight months, Ms. Sallee filed more than ten similar
pleadings, most of which contained multiple motions
illustrating her dissatisfaction with the administration of
her mother's estate and prayers for relief of various
sorts.,  On June 24, 2016, the Estate filed a
motion seeking a declaratory judgment as to whether Ms.
Sallee's conduct constituted an attack on the validity of
the Will, thereby triggering the forfeiture clause at Article
VI, paragraph 7 of the will, and resulting in the loss of her
inheritance. On December 2, 2016, the trial court
entered an order stating that "upon the agreement of all
parties concerned and the entire record as a whole, the heir,
Yarboro Ann Sallee hereby withdraws all Motions heretofore
trial court held a hearing on the Estate's motion on
March 21, 2017, and entered an order on April 6, holding that
"[t]he actions of Yarboro Ann Sallee were a contest or
attack on the validity of the Will of Gladys Yarboro
Lloyd" and that "[t]hese multiple attacks were not
made in good faith or with reasonable justification."
The trial court invoked the clause and excluded Ms. Sallee
from receiving any disposition under the will. Ms. Sallee
moved to alter or amend the order, asserting that she had not
challenged the validity of the will and "would have had
a good faith basis to challenge the validity of the will had
she chosen to." The court granted the motion to
"allow Ms. Sallee to give testimony in order to explain
her intent for the pleadings which she filed in this case . .
. so that the Court can make a further determination
regarding the requirement of good faith and probable
cause." An evidentiary hearing was held on September 8,
at which Ms. Sallee testified, and the court entered an order
on September 25 affirming the April 6 order., 
12, 2017, Ms. Sallee and her counsel, Paul Kaufman, recorded
a lien against property located at 112 Pratt Lane, Oak Ridge,
which was owned by Ms. Lloyd at her death, to secure payment
of Ms. Sallee's quantum meruit claim for services
rendered in the life insurance benefits matter referenced in
the October 30, 2015 pleading. The Personal Representative
moved to require Ms. Sallee to release the lien; at an August
15, 2017 hearing, the court granted the motion and, on its
own initiative, found that sanctions should be imposed
pursuant to Rule 11.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil
Procedure against Ms. Sallee and Mr. Kaufman for filing an
improper lien. An order was entered on August 31, nunc
pro tunc to August 15, memorializing the oral ruling and
directing the Personal Representative's attorneys to file
affidavits of their time and expenses related to getting the
lien released and to serve those affidavits on Mr. Kaufman,
"who may show cause for why sanctions should not be
awarded in that amount." The court designated the order
as a final order pursuant to Rule 54.02, and Ms. Sallee and
Mr. Kaufman filed a notice of appeal on September
the attorneys filed their affidavits, the court entered an
order on September 21, awarding a judgment in the amount of
$16, 529.09 against Mr. Kaufman and Ms. Sallee for attorneys
fees incurred by the estate. On March 27, 2018, Ms. Sallee
and Mr. Kaufman filed a motion pursuant to Rule 60.02(2) and
(5) to set aside the sanctions, which the court granted in
order to permit Mr. Kaufman to make arguments "which he
failed to make prior to the entry of the order on September
25 [sic], 2017." By order entered May 15, 2018, the
trial court reaffirmed the August 24, 2017 order awarding
sanctions. Ms. Sallee and Mr. Kaufman filed a notice
appealing this order, which was docketed as No.
E2018-00993-COA-R3-CV. The trial court subsequently entered
an order staying all efforts to execute the judgment
regarding the Rule 11 sanctions pending this appeal. By order
entered August 27, 2018, this Court consolidated appeals Nos.
E2017-02563 and E2018-00993.
their brief on appeal, Appellants state fifteen issues for
resolution. The arguments in their brief do not
address all fifteen issues, and most of the statements made
in the argument section of the brief are not supported by
reference to the record or citation to legal authority. From
our review of the briefs of the parties as well as the record
we discern two dispositive issues: whether the trial court
erred in its construction and application of the no contest
clause in the will, and whether the imposition of sanctions
The No Contest Clause
Winningham v. Winningham, our Supreme Court
acknowledged that, while a forfeiture clause in a will is not
void, it will not be enforced where the will contest is
undertaken in good faith:
This Court has recognized that a forfeiture provision in a
will is not void as against public policy. Tate v.
Camp, 147 Tenn. 137, 149, 245 S.W. 839, 842 (1922);
Thompson v. Gaut, 82 Tenn. 310, 314 (1884). However,
it has been the rule since Tate v. Camp, that a
forfeiture provision will not be enforced where a contest is
pursued "in good faith and upon probable cause."
After considering decisions from other jurisdictions, the
Court in Tate v. Camp approved the following from
South Norwalk Trust Co. v. St. John, 92 Conn. 168,
101 A. 961, 963 (1917), "'Where the contest has not
been made in good faith, and upon probable cause and
reasonable justification, the forfeiture should be given full
operative effect. Where the contrary appears, the legatee
ought not to forfeit his legacy.'" Tate v.
Camp, 147 Tenn. at 155-56, 245 S.W. at 844.
966 S.W.2d 48, 51 (Tenn. 1998). Thus, we begin by examining
the actions of Ms. Sallee to determine whether the evidence
supports the trial court's holding that those actions
effectively initiated a will contest and whether the actions
were pursued in good faith and upon probable cause and
reasonable justification. Our review of the court's
factual determinations is de novo upon the record,
accompanied by a presumption of correctness of those
findings, unless the preponderance of the evidence is
otherwise. Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d); Bogan v. Bogan,
60 S.W.3d 721, 727 (Tenn. 2001). We review the court's
conclusions of law de novo without affording any
presumption of correctness to those conclusions. In re
Estate of Milam, 181 S.W.3d 344, 353 (Tenn. Ct. App.
200) (citing In re Estate of Vincent, 98 S.W.3d 146,
148 (Tenn. 2003)).
Personal Representative sought to have the court determine
whether Ms. Sallee's filings of "approximately
twenty-six motions and/or petitions" "have
constituted an attack on the validity of the Will such as to
trigger forfeiture of her inheritance under the in terrorem
clause under the Will."
April 6, 2017 order, the trial court stated the factual basis
of its holding that Ms. Sallee's conduct constituted a
will contest thusly:
The issue is whether the pleadings filed by Ms. Sallee amount
to either a direct or an indirect attack upon the validity of
the Will which therefore triggers the no-contest provision.
In this case, Ms. Sallee has requested the Court to remove
both the executor and the alternate executor, and instead
appoint her as executor of Ms. Lloyd's Will. She has made
the same request regarding the trustees. She has requested
the Court to find both the personal representative and the
Estate's attorney in contempt. She has requested the
immediate payment of all funds and personal items to which
she claims she is entitled, even though she is only the
beneficiary of a testamentary trust which has not yet been
funded, and not a beneficiary under the Will. Finally, Ms.
Sallee produced a quitclaim deed purportedly executed by Ms.
Lloyd transferring all of the interest in the property at 112
Pratt Lane in Anderson County to her.
The Court finds that the above actions by Ms. Sallee amount
to, at a minimum, indirect attacks upon the validity of her
mother's Will. In particular, Ms. Sallee requested the
Court to award her the entire interest in 112 Pratt Lane
pursuant to the quitclaim deed, which is completely
inconsistent with the Will which devises said property forty
percent (40%) to Yancy Krebs and sixty percent (60%) to the
Yarboro Sallee Trust. No person can take any beneficial
interest in a will, and at the same time set up any right or
claim of their own, even if well founded, which would defeat,
or in any way prevent, the full effect and operation of every
part of the will. Duncan v. Peebles, 192 S.W.2d 235,
241 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1945). The pleadings filed by Ms. Sallee
requesting the Court to award her the entire interest in the
property at 112 Pratt Lane and to grant her immediate
possession of said property was an intentional election to
claim a complete interest in the 112 Pratt Lane property
under the purported quitclaim deed, rather than as a
beneficiary of the testamentary trust (60%) under the Will.
Thus, Ms. Sallee knowingly chose to challenge or contest the
validity of this section of the Will.
Ms. Sallee also contested the Will by filing vexatious
pleadings. She requested the removal of the executors and the
trustees and appointing herself instead. She asked the Court
to enjoin the Estate from any disbursement of funds. She
petitioned the Court to require the Estate to provide her
with funds to hire her own attorney. She asked the Court to
order the immediate payment of all funds which she claimed
were owed to her, including rent, and she filed a motion to
hold the personal representative in contempt. All of these
actions fly in the face of the intended purpose of the
no-contest clause in Ms. Lloyd's Will, which was to guard
against vexatious litigation, Smithsonian Institution v.
Meech, supra at 402, and to exclude from her
bounty those beneficiaries who unsuccessfully sought to
thwart her testamentary wishes. Lytle v. Zebold, 357
S.W.2d 20, 21 (Ark. 1962).
Having found that the actions of Yarboro Sallee have
triggered the no-contest provision of her mother's Will,
the Court then must determine whether the pleadings filed by
Ms. Sallee were done in good faith and with probable cause or
reasonable justification. Tate v. Camp,
supra. With regard to the quitclaim deed produced by
Ms. Sallee purportedly transferring the property at 112 Pratt
Lane to her, the Estate in its separate complaint, points out
the following undisputed facts:
1. The deed was never recorded with the Register of Deeds for
2. The name of the grantor on the quitclaim deed does not
match the name of the owner of record of the realty;
3. The quitclaim deed lacks the identity of the preparer of
4. The notarization on the deed is a jurat, not an
acknowledgement, which is required by Tenn. Code Ann. §
In open Court on March 21, 2017, Ms. Sallee, through her new
attorney, Mr. Yuiil stated Ms. Sallee was withdrawing her
claim based upon the quitclaim deed. The Court notes that Ms.
Sallee's change of position is directly contra to the
legal position she took in her Answer to the Complaint filed
on October 4, 2016, to clear the cloud upon the title filed
by the Estate in the Chancery Court of Anderson County,
Tennessee, Docket No. 16CH8283. The actions by Ms. Sallee are
clearly distinguishable from the actions of Ms. Winningham in
Winningham v. Winningham, supra.
Court finds there is not a scintilla of good faith or
reasonable justification in any of the above pleadings filed
by Ms. Sallee.
address first matters related to Ms. Sallee's claims to
the Pratt Lane property, following which we will address the
conduct of the litigation.
Pratt Lane Property
respect to the quitclaim deed upon which Ms. Sallee relied to
argue that she owned the property at 112 Pratt Lane, the
Personal Representative asserted:
The real property located at 112 Pratt Lane consists of two
parcels: Tract One acquired by Ms. Sallee's parents
"William E. Sallee and wife, Yarboro Barnette
Sallee" in 1957 and Tract Two acquired by "William
E. Sallee and his wife, Yarboro B. Sallee" in 1960. In
connection with the Sallees' divorce, the Decedent
quitclaimed Tract One and Tract Two to her ex-husband William
E. Sallee by separate deeds in 1986, copies of which deeds
are of record in Warranty Deed Book N, Series 16 at Page 451
and Warranty Deed Book N, Series 16 at Page 454 in the
Register's Office of Anderson County, Tennessee. On June
10, 2010, the Decedent purchased Tract One and Tract Two from
the Estate of her deceased ex-husband William Edgar Sallee,
Sr., both of which were transferred to her via a Personal
Representative's Deed of record in Deed Book 1523, Pages
1229-1232 in the Register's Office of Anderson County,
Tennessee. Copies of all referenced deeds are attached as
collective Exhibit A.
The unrecorded Quitclaim Deed filed by Ms. Sallee (the
property description of which includes only Tract One), was
allegedly signed by the Decedent on July 16, 2009, a date