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In re Stix

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

April 28, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF THE CHARLES H. STIX TESTAMENTARY TRUST DATED AUGUST 7, 1945, AND THE CLARA F. STIX TESTAMENTARY TRUST DATED APRIL 20, 1943

Page 374

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. 1222-PR00313. Honorable Philip D. Heagney.

         FOR APPELLANT: Michael W. Bartolacci, Kimberly M. Bousquet, Alicia M. Konstantinovich, St. Louis, MO.

         FOR RESPONDENT: Robert J. Selsor, Atty. for Resp. Justin S. Grace, St. Louis, MO; Michael J. McKitrick, Misty A. Watson, Atty. for Resp. Brian C. Pate, St. Louis, MO; Robert John Will, Atty. for Resp. Bank of America, St. Louis, MO.

          OPINION

Page 375

          ROBERT M. CLAYTON III, Judge.

          Charles Grace, Nancy Grace, and William Grace (respectively " Charles," " Nancy," and " William," and collectively " Appellants" ) appeal the probate court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Justin Grace (" Respondent" ), finding that Respondent was a qualified beneficiary to two testamentary trusts at issue because he is the descendant of Appellants' brother Robert Grace. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Appellants are the grandchildren of Charles Stix (" Charles" ) and the great-grandchildren of Clara Stix (" Clara" ), Charles' mother. The provisions of the last will and testament of both Clara and Charles created trusts for the benefit of their descendants, effective April 20, 1943 and August 7, 1945, respectively. Charles' daughter Ann Stix Grace (" Ann" ) was the sole lifetime beneficiary of both trusts following the death of Clara and Charles and received all income from each trust.

         Both of the trusts terminated upon Ann's death on January 27, 2012. The trusts used slightly different language to dispose of the estate following Ann's death. Clara's trust provided that upon Ann's death, her trust estate would be divided among Ann's living children and, if any of Ann's children predeceased her, that child's portion would pass to that child's descendants. Charles' trust provided that upon the death of Ann, the Trustee was to distribute all the money and other property then constituting the trust estate in equal shares per stirpes to Ann's living descendants. Although the trusts used different language, the class of " descendants" is identical under both trusts, with each descendant taking an equal share. The trust documents do not otherwise define the term " descendant."

         Ann had five children, including Appellants Charles, Nancy, and William, as well as Robert Grace and John Grace. Robert and John each predeceased Ann, John without leaving any children. The issue in this case is whether Respondent is Robert's descendant within the meaning of the trusts and therefore entitled to Robert's share of the proceeds.

         On March 28, 1985, Robert married Respondent's mother, Susan Martin (" Susan" ). Respondent was born in the State of Washington on October 28, 1985, and Respondent's birth certificate listed Robert as Respondent's father. Robert and Susan divorced on October 24, 1988, also in the State of Washington. The Washington court issued a dissolution judgment with findings of fact and conclusions of law

Page 376

(" the Washington judgment" ) stating " the following child has been born as a result of this marriage : Justin Samuel Grace, born October 28, 1985" (emphasis added). The judgment granted Susan primary custody of Respondent and ...


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