Ridenour v. Drury


NOTICE: NOT FOR OFFICIAL PUBLICATION. UNDER ARIZONA RULE OF THE SUPREME COURT 111(c), THIS DECISION IS NOT PRECEDENTIAL AND MAY BE CITED ONLY AS AUTHORIZED BY RULE. IN THE ARIZONA COURT OF APPEALS DIVISION ONE In the Matter of: Revocable Living Trust of Dona M. Drury _______________________________ MIRANDA RIDENOUR, et al., Petitioners/Appellees, v. THOMAS A. DRURY, Respondent/Appellant. No. 1 CA-CV 20-0206 FILED 12-29-2020 Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. PB2019-051899 The Honorable Jane E. McLaughlin, Judge AFFIRMED COUNSEL Provident Law, Scottsdale By Bryan L. Eastin Counsel for Respondent/Appellant RIDENOUR, et al. v. DRURY Decision of the Court MEMORANDUM DECISION Judge David B. Gass delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Jennifer M. Perkins and Judge Michael J. Brown joined. G A S S, Judge: ¶1 Thomas A. Drury appeals a superior court ruling finding he was not properly named as successor trustee for the Revocable Living Trust of Dona M. Drury. Because the superior court did not abuse its discretion or otherwise commit legal error, we affirm. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY ¶2 At the time of Dona’s death, she and Thomas had been married 25 years and had 3 adopted children—Miranda Ridenour, Michael Drury, and Joseph Drury (collectively, the beneficiaries). ¶3 Dona created the trust before she married Thomas, naming herself the initial trustee. The trust names two individuals and Dona’s bank as successor trustees. Section 9.2 of the trust further provides: In the event no named Successor Trustee is available, a majority of the beneficiaries then eligible to receive mandatory or discretionary distributions of net income under this agreement shall forthwith name a corporate fiduciary or an individual fiduciary. If the beneficiaries then eligible to receive mandatory or discretionary distributions of net income under this agreement cannot agree on a corporate fiduciary, any beneficiary can petition a court of competent jurisdiction, ex parte, to designate a corporate fiduciary as Successor Trustee. (Emphasis original.) ¶4 Following Dona’s death in January 2018, each of the named successor trustees declined to serve. At some point during the summer of 2018, the beneficiaries learned the named successors declined to serve as trustee. Sometime later, Miranda and Thomas met with a bank official to 2 RIDENOUR, et al. v. DRURY Decision of the Court review the trust account. Following bank approval, Thomas began administering the trust and distributing payments. ¶5 In July 2019, Miranda and Michael petitioned the superior court to remove Thomas as trustee and order a detailed accounting of the trust. The petition alleged “Thomas was not named as a successor trustee of the trust,” and he “utilized Trust assets to pay for his lifestyle, without accounting to Petitioner’s for the Trust assets and expenses.” The superior court set an evidentiary hearing “to address whether Thomas Drury has the authority to act as the Trustee.” ¶6 At the evidentiary hearing, the superior court heard conflicting testimony. Thomas said all three beneficiaries were present at the summer 2018 meeting and each verbally approved his appointment as trustee. …

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