KENNETH J. CLARK, AS TRUSTEE OF THE CLARK REVOCABLE TRUST APPELLANT
MELVA JEAN SUMMERS APPELLEE
FROM THE CARROLL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT [NO.
08ECV-15-34] HONORABLE SCOTT JACKSON, JUDGE
& Taylor Law Firm, P.A., by: Andrew M. Taylor and Tasha
C. Taylor, for appellant.
Richard F. Hatfield, P.A., by: Richard F. Hatfield, for
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
Abramson and Whiteaker, JJ., agree.
J. Clark appeals the Carroll County Circuit Court's order
that two trust assets must be reappraised and the assets of
the trust redistributed accordingly. We dismiss without
prejudice for lack of a final order.
1997, Kenneth B. Clark and Melva Clark, husband and wife,
executed a trust and named their four children, Kenneth J.
Clark (Kenneth J.), Melva Jean Summers, Cora A. Clark, and
Barbara R. McClenathan, as beneficiaries. The trust named
Kenneth J. as the successor trustee upon the death of both
parents. The trust owned a one-half interest in a 360-acre
tract of land (parcel 1) and full interest in a 100-acre
tract of land (parcel 2). The value of these assets is the
crux of the parties' dispute.
Melva Clark died, and pursuant to the language of the trust,
the decedent's share of parcel 1 was transferred into the
surviving grantor's "survivor's trust."
Kenneth J. and his father drew up an agreement that, for the
purpose of transferring the asset to the survivor's
trust, set the value of parcel 1 at $180, 000.
2013, Kenneth B. Clark passed away. The trust directs that on
the death of both grantors, Kenneth J. shall distribute the
interest in parcel 1 to himself and his wife, Peggy Clark.
The trust also sets forth that
[t]he Trustee shall determine the value of the property being
distributed to KENNETH J. CLARK and PEGGY CLARK as set forth
in paragraph C above [parcel 1]. The Trustee shall then pay
an equal sum to MELVA JEAN SUMMERS, CORA A. CLARK, and
BARBARA R. McCLENATHAN. Any remaining assets shall be divided
into four (4) equal shares and distributed in equal shares to
each of the four (4) children per stirpes. It is the
intention of the Grantors to make equal gifts to their
children except that Kenneth Jay Clark is to receive specific
his father's death, Kenneth J. paid the trust $180, 000
for parcel 1 and distributed the proceeds of the transfer to
himself and each of his siblings. Each of the four
beneficiaries received $45, 000. Kenneth J. decided to
purchase parcel 2 from the trust as well, and he had it
appraised. The value of parcel 2 was estimated to be $240,
000. Kenneth J. sold the parcel to himself and distributed a
one-quarter share of the proceeds-$60, 000- to each of his
siblings and to himself.
filed a motion for declaratory judgment in which she alleged
that Kenneth J. undervalued parcel 1 and parcel 2, which
resulted in distribution of a larger portion of the trust
assets to himself. Summers requested that the circuit court
require a new appraisal of parcel 1 by a mutually agreed-upon
appraiser, that the circuit court order Kenneth J. to repay
the trust for the unequal distribution of assets from the
sale of parcel 1 to himself, that the circuit court cancel
the sale of parcel 2 and refund Kenneth J. the money, and
that the circuit court require Kenneth J. to distribute the
trust property equally to all four beneficiaries.
April 7, 2017, after a hearing in which the parties presented
evidence regarding the value of the land and argument
regarding the language of the trust, the circuit court
entered an order. The circuit court found that the intent of
the trust was to equally divide the assets of the trust to
the grantors' four children and that Kenneth J. breached
his fiduciary duty as trustee by not properly valuing parcel
1. The circuit court also found that it was impossible to
determine the value of the parcels based on the testimony,
and it ordered new appraisals performed by an agreed-upon
appeal, Kenneth J. asserts that the circuit court erred by
ruling that he breached the terms of the trust and breached
his fiduciary duty by valuing parcel 1 at $180, 000 and that
the circuit court erred by ordering new appraisals of the
property. Kenneth J. argues that the trust allows him to
determine the value ...