Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
DAVID G. DENNY and LINDA J. DENNY, TRUSTEES OF THE DAVID G. DENNY AND LINDA J. DENNY REVOCABLE TRUST DATED JUNE 17, 2003 Plaintiffs-Respondents,
REGIONS BANK d/b/a REGIONS MORTGAGE, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY Honorable Jason
Brown, Circuit Judge
JEFFREY W. BATES, J.
case is on appeal to this Court for the second time. See
Denny v. Regions Bank, 479 S.W.3d 781 (Mo. App. 2016).
Regions Bank (Bank) and Federal National Mortgage Association
(FNMA) (hereinafter collectively referred to as Defendants)
appeal from a judgment entered after a bench trial on remand.
The underlying action involved a quitclaim deed (the
Quitclaim Deed) from the trustees of the David G. Denny and
Linda J. Denny Revocable Trust (the Trust) that conveyed
certain real property (the Property) to John and Terah
Richardson (the Richardsons).The judgment declared that: (1)
the Quitclaim Deed reserved a life estate in the Property,
held by the trustees and measured by the natural lives of
David and Linda; and (2) that instrument conveyed a vested
remainder to the Richardsons, which was later purchased at a
non-judicial foreclosure sale by Bank and deeded to FNMA.
present two points on appeal. In Point 1, Defendants contend
the trial court erred by admitting extrinsic evidence
concerning the Dennys' intent as grantors in executing
the Quitclaim Deed. In Point 2, Defendants contend the
language in the Quitclaim Deed was legally ineffective to
reserve a life estate. Finding no merit in either point, we
and Procedural Background
The Dennys were the trustees of the Trust. The Dennys owned
the Property as tenants by the entirety. In 2003, they
executed a deed conveying the Property to themselves in their
capacities as trustees of the Trust. In 2005, the Dennys
executed the Quitclaim Deed, in their capacity as trustees of
the Trust, conveying the Property to the Richardsons.In relevant
part, the Quitclaim Deed stated:
WITNESSETH, The said Grantor, for and in consideration of the
sum of $10.00 Ten and no/100 ---------------- DOLLARS, and
other valuable consideration paid to the Grantor, the receipt
of which is hereby acknowledged, do by these presents,
* Remise, Release and forever Quit Claim, unto the
Grantee the following [legal description of the Property].
* Grantors reserve unto themselves a life estate
in the land conveyed by this Deed.
2007, the Bank recorded a deed of trust on the Property to
secure a loan to the Richardsons. Bank's title insurance
commitment and lender's title policy noted and included
an exception for the life estate mentioned in the Quitclaim
Deed. The Richardsons defaulted on their loan in 2012. The
Bank purchased the Property at a non-judicial foreclosure
sale and deeded it to FNMA.
Dennys brought a quiet title action in their capacities as
trustees to obtain declaratory relief that they had a life
estate in the Property and that Defendants had no interest in
the Property. By counterclaim, Defendants asked the trial
court to declare, inter alia, that Defendants'
title was superior to any interest of the Dennys. On
cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court made the
1. The Dennys acted in their capacities as trustees of the
Trust in deeding the Property to the Richardsons "with
language that expressly included 'Grantors reserve unto
themselves a life estate in the land conveyed by this
2. By such language, the Dennys intended to convey the
Property "subject to the lives of David Denny and Linda
Denny personally, husband and wife."
3. "FNMA does have title, but that title is subject to
the Life Estate of David G. Denny and Linda J. Denny,
appealed from the judgment. A summary judgment in favor of
the moving party is only appropriate "when there is no
genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Nationwide
Ins. Co. v. Dugger, 484 S.W.3d 377, 379 (Mo. App. 2016).
Defendants contended the Dennys failed to establish as a
matter of law that they held personal life estates in the
Property. This Court agreed:
[T]he judgment that the Dennys hold a life estate personally
lacks record support in two respects: (1) that they intended
to hold such estate personally, not as trustees; and (2) even
assuming such intent, that they took appropriate legal action
to accomplish ...