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In the Estate of Qualls

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

July 29, 2014

In the Estate of MARTHA LUTISHA QUALLS
v.
BONNIE WILLIAMS, Respondent DEBRA M. KIRCHHOF, Appellant,

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CALLAWAY COUNTY. THE HONORABLE CAROL A. ENGLAND, JUDGE.

Timothy C. Brady, Fulton, MO, for appellant.

Stephen J. Stark, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

BEFORE MARK D. PFEIFFER, PRESIDING JUDGE, LISA WHITE HARDWICK AND KAREN KING MITCHELL, JUDGES. ALL CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 744

LISA WHITE HARDWICK, J.

Debra Kirchhof appeals from a probate order that reversed her deposit of funds, as attorney-in-fact for the decedent, into a bank account on which Kirchhof herself was listed as a pay-on-death beneficiary. The circuit court found that Kirchhof exceeded her authority as attorney-in-fact by depositing the funds into the account. For reasons explained herein, we affirm.

Factual And Procedural History

On December 6, 2006, Martha Lutisha Qualls (the " decedent" ) executed a Last Will and Testament, naming her son, John Qualls, her stepdaughter, Bonnie Williams, and her step-granddaughter, Debra Kirchhof, as the equal beneficiaries of: " [A]ll of my estate, whether real, personal or mixed, wheresoever situated which I may own at the time of my death." Additionally, in the Will, the decedent named Qualls and Kirchhof as co-personal representatives of her estate.

On December 6, 2006, the decedent also executed a Durable Power of Attorney (POA), naming Kirchhof as her attorney-in-fact. The POA included a provision authorizing Kirchhof:

[T]o make gifts or transfers in my name out of my property and assets to such recipients as her sole discretion may seem appropriate and proper . . . . Said attorney-in-fact, may herself be a recipient of such gifts. If I have a current Will, the terms thereof shall be respected as to gifts by my said attorney."

Page 745

On March 24, 2007, at the instruction of decedent, Callaway Bank amended the signature card for a checking account that decedent opened in 1966 (the " Callaway Account" ). The amended signature card named Kirchhof as an authorized signatory, and named Kirchhof and Qualls as pay-on-death beneficiaries, each to share fifty percent of the funds in the Callaway Account upon the death of the decedent.

On August 23, 2009, Kirchhof, acting as attorney-in-fact, sold the decedent's home, acreage, and household contents at auction. The net proceeds from the auction were $80,240.00 -- $5,395.00 from the household contents and $74,845.00 from the home and acreage. Kirchhof deposited the $80,240.00 into the Callaway Account. Kirchhof testified that her deposit of the proceeds into the Callaway Account was not at the direction of the decedent. Some of the funds in the bank account were used for ...


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