April 2018

Posted April 30, 2018

Ray Wayne Lynch v. Frank Barba, C.A. No. 12083-MG (April 3, 2018)

       Rob Wayne Lynch (“Plaintiff”) is in a dispute with the executor of his mother’s estate, Francis Barba (“Defendant”), claiming breach of fiduciary duty. Defendant was the husband of Plaintiff’s sister, who pre-deceased her mother, which left Defendant as executor of the mother’s estate and successor trustee of both the Special Needs Trust (“SNT”) at issue and the Revocable Trust (“RT”) at issue. Plaintiff asked the court to remove Defendant as trustee of both trusts and terminate the SNT, among other claims for relief. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to confirm that he had met his fiduciary obligations and order that the SNT be terminated and the remaining assets paid to Plaintiff.

       The background of the case reveals a long-standing, contentious relationship between Plaintiff and Defendant. Before his mother’s death in 2010, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Defendant’s attorneys expressing concern about Defendant acting “in the capacity of a son.” Over the next six years, Plaintiff wrote numerous letters to Defendant’s counsel regarding improper administration of the estate and the SNT, until finally filing his complaint in Chancery Court on March 7, 2016.

       After consideration, Master Griffin found that there were no material issues of fact in dispute, and noted that the controlling language of the instrument at issue gave the executor broad powers. Master Griffin recommended that the court grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and that it conclude there was no reason to replace Defendant as trustee of the SNT, because there was no evidence of any misappropriation of estate monies or administration of SNT funds. The Master also recommended that the court terminate the SNT and distribute remaining trust assets to Plaintiff, after the payment of all outstanding debts of the trust, including attorneys’ fees for both sides.

Posted April 3, 2018

Marie Ann Hurd v. Leonard Hurd, Jr., Individually and as a Trustee of the Marie Ann Hurd Trust, C.A. No. 4675-MG (March 26, 2018)

       We previously blogged about this dispute in 2016, where then-Master Ayvazian recommended to the Court that it find that the trustee breached his fiduciary duties and that, among other things, require him to produce records and an accounting of the trust. By way of further background, at issue is a trust that was established to provide income for the settlor’s wife following his death. The settlor’s son, from another marriage, was the trustee of the trust. The son filed exceptions to the Master’s Report. Vice Chancellor Glasscock denied the exceptions, removed the son as trustee and appointed a receiver to perform an accounting of the trust.

       On April 26, 2017, then-Master Ayvazian held a contempt hearing concerning the son’s failure to produce the documents requested by the receiver and fined the son. On October 27, 2017 the receiver filed its report. The son objected to the receiver’s report. After reviewing the receiver’s report and the son’s objections, the Master issued its report recommending that the Court reject the son’s objections and approve the receiver’s report that the son pay the trust $611,971.44 in income and $450,559.64 in principal, as well as the value of 6,075 shares of Nucor stock. The Master did however reconsider the fines levied against the son for his failure to provide documents to the receiver, and recommended that under the circumstances, the Court vacate the fines.