ROY GREGORY WOLFE, EXECUTOR FOR THE ESTATE OF ROY CLEMENT WOLFE APPELLANT
MICHELLE YOUNG, PAULA VANOVER and MARLA HAYS APPELLEES
DISCRETIONARY REVIEW FROM BOYLE CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE
DARREN W. PECKLER, JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-XX-00001
FOR APPELLANT: Jason T. Ams Timothy Dunn Jr. Lexington,
FOR APPELLEE: J. Robert Lyons, Jr. Lexington, Kentucky
BEFORE: CLAYTON, COMBS, AND TAYLOR, JUDGES.
a case arising out of probate law in which we granted
discretionary review. Roy Gregory Wolfe contends that the
circuit court erred by affirming an order of the district
court order removing him as executor of his father's
estate. Wolfe argues that the district court failed to apply
the correct standard concerning the allegation of the other
beneficiaries that he was unsuited to hold this fiduciary
position. Having carefully considered the arguments of
counsel and the law governing the issue, we agree that the
district court erred by removing Wolfe as executor and that
the circuit court erred in affirming the decision of the
district court. Consequently, we reverse and remand.
Clement Wolfe, a resident of Boyle County, died testate on
February 21, 2014. His will was admitted to probate on March
20, 2014. Article I directed that the decedent's just
debts, funeral expenses, taxes, and costs of administration
be paid out of the residuary estate.
II granted Wolfe the exclusive option to purchase from the
estate a log cabin located in Russell Springs - including all
its furnishings. The will provided that Wolfe could buy the
property within six months at the value assessed by the
property valuation administrator on the date of death, and it
authorized a partial distribution of the estate to enable
Wolfe to pay for the real property.
III bequeathed to Wolfe "all of my tools and any boat
owned by me at the time of my death."
IV bequeathed to the decedent's surviving children the
household furniture and tangible personal property in his
Danville home. The property was to be divided by agreement;
if agreement could not be reached on any item within sixty
days of death, the item was to be sold by the executor with
the proceeds to be added to the residuary clause.
V provided that the residue of the estate would be divided in
equal shares among the decedent's daughters, Michelle
Young; Paula Vanover; Marla Hays; and his son, Roy Gregory
Wolfe (per stirpes). Finally, the will named Roy Gregory
Wolfe as executor of the estate.
was duly appointed by order of the Boyle District Court. In
his capacity as executor, Wolfe filed an inventory of his
father's estate on May 16, 2014.
inventory reported assets having a total estimated value of
$1, 276, 269.00 and included: a position in Duke Energy
valued at $518, 345; a position in Spectra Energy Corp.
valued at $408, 924; the residence in Danville valued at
$155, 000; the cabin in Russell Springs valued at $130, 000;
two insurance policies valued at $27, 000; tools at the
Danville residence (including a lawn mower) valued at $15,
000; tools at the cabin (including a lawn tractor) valued at
$15, 000; and a number of items of tangible personal
5, 2014, through counsel, the decedent's daughters sent a
letter to their brother demanding that Wolfe amend the
inventory or otherwise account for assets that they alleged
had been omitted from their father's estate. They
contended that the inventory failed to include a 2008 truck
(valued at $12, 000); a man's diamond ring (valued at
$25, 000); a German carving set; a blue oriental bowl &
plate; some glassware; some old love letters; a long, black
coat; a purple heart medal; "silver"; guns; and
some "new hand weights." They contested Wolfe's
classification of the mower and yard tractor as
"tools" and suggested that this alleged
mis-classification could constitute a breach of his fiduciary
duties. They also objected to Wolfe's failure to allow
them access to the real property and his decision to expend
estate funds to improve the real property without notice to
them - including some $7, 000 ...