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Member Achievement and Case News: Featured

SJ for Administratrix Reversed: Fiduciary Duty Breach

Sunday, June 4, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tom Jensen
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Elderly man gave nephew power of attorney over his affairs. In 1999 nephew conveyed parcel of man's land to himself for $1, and another parcel was conveyed to one Vanhoose for $20,000. Man died intestate in 2003, and court appointed Vanhouse as administratrix, after she averred she was not indebted to decedent. In 2005 while distributing estate assets Vanhoose paid the estate $20,000. Heirs at law of the decedent sued, alleging fiduciary duty breach for Vanhoose's failure to pay for the land in 1999, for false swearing of no indebtedness, for failing to sue nephew who obtained the property at below market value, and for diverting estate money to personal use. Circuit court dismissed action on grounds no claim was actionable for pre-death conveyances, and that the claim against administratrix for nephew's conduct was unripe. In Rose v. Vanhoose, 2017 WL 2332687 (Ky. App., May 26, 2017) the court reversed. A fiduciary duty breach claim was actionable because the sales involved deprived the heirs of fair value. The court rejected administratrix's argument that the realty was conveyed during decedent's life, and was thus no longer owned by him at the time of his death and never part of the estate. "The significant oversight in that argument is that but for the questionable transaction, both tracts of real estate in dispute, would have remained assets of the decedent and passed to all his heirs-at-law." Case was remanded for trial on the question whether indebtedness disqualified administratrix from serving, and whether failure to pursue nephew and administratrix on the land conveyances amounted to fiduciary duty breach.       

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