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Succession of Lanier

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 30, 2018

SUCCESSION OF EUGENE D. LANIER

          APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. P-20150823 HONORABLE THOMAS R. DUPLANTIER, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Carey J. Messina, Todd A. Rossi, Michael J. deBarros, Kean Miller L.L.P. COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Inc.

          Ted W. Hoyt, Russell B. Kahn, Jena K. Wynne, Hoyt & Stanford, L.L.C. COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES: Vance E. Lanier, Dayle C. Guillory

          Richard S. Derbes Attorney at Law COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLEE: Eugene L. Miller

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John D. Saunders, Billy H. Ezell, D. Kent Savoie, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          CANDYCE G. PERRET JUDGE

         Plaintiff, St. Jude Children's Hospital ("St. Jude"), is appealing a trial court judgment that denied its Motion to Traverse the Detailed Descriptive List and Opposition to the First Annual Account in this succession proceeding. The trial court found that the matrimonial home, located at 1829 Guillot Road in Youngsville, Louisiana ("the Guillot Road property"), was properly placed in a Trust in 2004, and was not an asset of the succession. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court judgment.

         FACTS:

         On May 25, 2004, Eugene and Erie Lanier, as co-settlors and co-trustees, established a revocable inter vivos trust ("Trust"). Schedule "A" of the Trust transfers to the Trust "[a]ll personal items, clothing, furniture and movables of any type, belonging to the Settlors and located within the family home, or on the grounds, occupied by Settlors located at 1829 Guillot Road in Youngsville, Louisiana." At that time, Mr. and Mrs. Lanier filed an Act of Donation to the Trust in which they donated all their immovable property located at their home at 1829 Guillot Road, Youngsville, Louisiana, to the Trust. The Act of Donation was filed with the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court on November 23, 2004. Also on that date, Mr. Lanier executed a Last Will and Testament ("2004 Will") in statutory form that "bequeathed all of my [Mr. Lanier's] remaining property, including property that may constitute the legitime of a forced heir, to the Trust which is identified above." The 2004 Will provided for the Lanier's three children, Vicci L. Guillet, Vance E. Lanier, and Dayle C. Guillory, to serve as co-executors of the succession if Ms. Lanier was unable to do so.

         On October 11, 2011, Ms. Lanier died. Thereafter, on February 13, 2014, Mr. Lanier executed a new Last Will and Testament ("2014 Will") that provided in pertinent part:

I direct my Executor to sell all of my real and moveable property located at 1829 Guillot Road, Youngsville, Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, including my residence and its amenities and furnishings (after the removal of my personal possessions), and I give and bequeath to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee, Tax ID 62-0646012, the sum of one hundred thousand dollars ($100, 000.00) from the proceeds of such sale or sales.

Mr. Lanier died on December 5, 2015.

         The succession of Mr. Lanier was opened on December 21, 2015, at which time the court appointed Vance Lanier and Dayle Guillory as the Independent Co-Executors[1] ("Co-Executors") and the 2004 Will was duly probated. On December 21, 2016, the Co-Executors filed a "First Annual Account" and "Sworn Detailed Descriptive List" for the period of December 21, 2015 through December 21, 2016. The descriptive list provided that the sole asset of the succession was a 2007 Chevrolet pickup truck.

         On January 4, 2017, St. Jude filed a Motion to Traverse the Detailed Descriptive List and Opposition to the First Annual Account Motion, seeking to have the Guillot Road property, valued at $600, 000.00, added to the detailed descriptive list. In support of its motion, St. Jude alleged the following, in pertinent part:

2. On May 25, 2004, the Decedent and his wife donated all real property located at 1829 Guillot Road in Youngsville, Louisiana ("Home") to the Trust.
3. Article VI of the Trust, which is entitled "Revocation And Amendment", provides that:
From and after the death of either of the original Settlors, this Agreement, insofar as it relates to the SURVIVOR'S TRUST, as defined herein, may be revoked or amended at any time and from time to time by the Survivor delivering ...

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