Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Darty v. Grauman

Supreme Court of Montana

May 29, 2018

STEVE DARTY, SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE OF THE MICHAEL R. GRAUMAN LIVING TRUST DATED AUGUST 5, 2016, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
MARCUS GRAUMAN, Intervenor and Appellant,
v.
COLLEEN CORNISH, GARY STODDARD, WHITEHALL SCHOOL SYSTEM, WHITEHALL FOOD BANK AND DOES I-X, Defendant and Appellee.

          Submitted on Briefs: April 25, 2018

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, In and For the County of Missoula, Cause No. DV-17-63 Honorable John W. Larson, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Quentin M. Rhoades, Nicole L. Siefert, Rhoades Siefert & Erickson, PLLC, Missoula, Montana Nathan G. Wagner, Datsopoulos, MacDonald & Lind, P.C., Missoula, Montana (for intervenor)

          For Appellee: Kevin S. Jones, Joseph D. Houston, Christian, Samson & Jones, PLLC, Missoula, Montana (for Colleen Cornish) Kevin Twidwell, Kaleva Law Office, Missoula, Montana (for Whitehall School System), David J. Steele, II, Geiszler Steele, P.C., Missoula, Montana (for Gary Stoddard), Whitehall Food Bank/Pantry, Cara Sacry, self-represented, Whitehall, Montana

          OPINION

          Laurie McKinnon, Justice

         ¶1 Steve Darty, successor trustee of the Michael R. Grauman Living Trust, and Marcus Grauman, Michael Grauman's brother, (together Darty) appeal from an order of the Fourth Judicial District Court, Missoula County, denying Darty's motion to enjoin transfer on death beneficiaries, Colleen Cornish, Gary Stoddard, Whitehall School System, and Whitehall Food Bank, et al., (together TOD Beneficiaries), from dissipating account funds and granting the TOD Beneficiaries' motion to dismiss Darty's complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. We affirm.

         ¶2 Restated, Darty presents the following issue for review:

         Whether the District Court correctly dismissed Darty's complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Michael Grauman (Decedent) executed transfer on death (TOD) beneficiary designations for three Ameriprise Financial accounts. In the TOD designations, Decedent assigned 75% of the funds to Cornish, 5% to Stoddard, 10% to Whitehall School System, and 10% to Whitehall Food Bank.

         ¶4 In August 2016, Decedent executed estate-planning documents including a will and trust, the Michael R. Grauman Living Trust (Trust). Decedent selected Darty, his attorney, to be his successor trustee. Darty maintains that Decedent intended for all of the assets in his estate to be transferred to the Trust and, upon his death, for the trustee to distribute the corpus of the Trust in accordance with its terms. In the Trust, Decedent named beneficiaries including Cornish, Stoddard, Whitehall School System, Whitehall Food Bank, and seven other parties. Decedent designated assets and/or cash values for each party. Specifically, the Trust provided that Cornish, Decedent's long-time girlfriend, was to receive a vehicle, a life estate in real property he owned in Missoula, and $350, 000 distributed monthly over twenty years; Stoddard was to receive a vehicle and $15, 000; and Whitehall School System and Whitehall Food Bank were to each receive $25, 000. The Trust also provided that Marcus Grauman was to receive Decedent's residuary estate. Darty maintains that Decedent intended to fund the Trust with the Missoula property and the proceeds from the three Ameriprise accounts. Decedent executed a deed and asked Darty to transfer the Missoula property into the Trust. Decedent notified Darty that he planned to transfer the Ameriprise accounts himself.

         ¶5 Decedent died in November 2016. Prior to his death, Darty transferred the Missoula property into the Trust; however, Decedent failed to transfer the Ameriprise accounts into the Trust. It is unknown why Decedent did not transfer the accounts. As a result, Ameriprise distributed the balance of Decedent's accounts that had a total approximate value of $660, 000 in accordance with the TOD beneficiary designations. Thus, Cornish received approximately $495, 000; Stoddard received approximately $33, 000; and Whitehall School System and Whitehall Food Bank each received approximately $66, 000.

         ¶6 Under the terms of the Trust, however, the TOD Beneficiaries would have received approximately $415, 000. The distribution of funds pursuant to the TOD designations therefore resulted in a Trust shortfall of approximately $245, 000 and Darty, acting as successor trustee, was unable to distribute the remaining gifts as Decedent specified in the Trust. Darty filed a complaint challenging the validity of the TOD designations, claiming the transfers unjustly enriched the TOD Beneficiaries because Decedent intended to transfer the Ameriprise accounts into the Trust. Darty argued equity required the District Court to transfer the proceeds from the Ameriprise accounts into a constructive trust to be distributed pursuant to the Trust's terms. Darty requested an injunction "enjoining [the TOD Beneficiaries] from disposing of or otherwise dissipating the corpus of the constructive trust." Marcus Grauman intervened, joining Darty's arguments. Cornish, joined by Stoddard and Whitehall School System, moved to dismiss Darty's complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, arguing Decedent's actions, not transferring the Ameriprise accounts into the Trust prior to his death, were dispositive.

         ¶7 The District Court held that Decedent's TOD designations superseded the contrary provisions in the Trust because the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.