Master Recommends Against Removal of Executor

Delaware Fiduciary Litigation Blog

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.


William M. Kelleher, Director
Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.
Rodney Sibert