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Davis v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

November 2, 2018

MIKE L. DAVIS, AS TRUSTEE OF THE DAVIS FAMILY WEALTH TRUST UAD 02/22/2010 AND MIKE L. DAVIS, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF ROBERT L. DAVIS APPELLANTS
v.
JENNIE LEE DAVIS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE ANGELA MCCORMICK BISIG, JUDGE ACTION NO. 16-CI-005780

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: J. Gregory Troutman Louisville, Kentucky Wesley A. Gersh Louisville, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Aaron J. Silletto Kelli E. Brown Prospect, Kentucky

          BEFORE: COMBS, KRAMER AND THOMPSON, JUDGES.

          OPINION REVERSING AND REMANDING

          THOMPSON, JUDGE.

         Mike L. Davis, as Trustee of the Davis Family Wealth Trust UAD 02/22/2010 and as Executor of the Estate of Robert L. Davis, appeals from an order of the Jefferson Circuit Court ruling that the Jefferson District Court possessed exclusive jurisdiction in this trust dispute. We conclude the circuit court has jurisdiction over matters within the concurrent jurisdiction of the circuit court and district court under the Uniform Trust Code, Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 386B, and reverse and remand.

         Before discussing the facts necessary to our resolution of the jurisdictional issue presented and so that those facts can be understood in context, we first provide the relevant statutory law. Two general statutes pertaining to the jurisdiction of the district and circuit courts, and KRS 386B.2-030 that specifically applies to trust matters, are pertinent.

         KRS 23A.010(1) provides that the circuit court "has original jurisdiction of all justiciable causes not exclusively vested in some other court." The district court's general jurisdiction is derived from KRS 24A.020 which provides: "When jurisdiction over any matter is granted to District Court by statute, such jurisdiction shall be deemed to be exclusive unless the statute specifically states that the jurisdiction shall be concurrent."

         In 2014, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted the Uniform Trust Code, KRS Chapter 386B. While the Code as adopted in Kentucky grants exclusive jurisdiction to the district court in certain matters, [1] KRS 386B.2-030 states as follows:

Except with regard to matters otherwise provided for by statute:
(1) The District Court and Circuit Court shall have concurrent jurisdiction of any proceedings in this Commonwealth brought by a trustee or beneficiary concerning any trust matter; and
(2) If a proceeding is initially brought in District Court concerning any trust matter, the jurisdiction of the District Court shall become exclusive with respect to such matter unless, within twenty (20) days of receipt of notice of such proceeding, a party files an action in Circuit Court relating to the same trust matter, in which event the District Court shall be divested of jurisdiction and the Circuit Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over such action.

         With the statutory law stated, we recite the limited facts necessary to resolve the legal issue presented.

         Robert L. Davis died testate on October 23, 2010. Mike, Robert's son, is the trustee of the Davis Family Wealth Trust and the Executor of the Davis Estate. Jennie Lee Davis is Robert's surviving spouse. Robert's will was admitted to probate on April 28, 2011, and Mike was appointed executor. After specific gifts, pursuant to the trust instrument, the ...


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