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Jackson v. Drury

Appellate Court of Connecticut

August 6, 2019

Margaret JACKSON et al.
Lauren K. DRURY et al.

         Argued March 4, 2019

         Appeal from Superior Court, Judicial District of New London, Bates, J.

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          Nancy Burton, self-represented, with whom, on the brief, were Margaret Jackson and Miarden Jackson, self-represented, the appellants (plaintiffs).

         Kenneth J. McDonnell, for the appellee (defendant The Washington Trust Company).

         Lavine, Bright and Bear, Js.


         LAVINE, J.

         [191 Conn.App. 589] The self-represented plaintiffs Nancy Burton (Burton), and Margaret Jackson and Miarden Jackson (Jackson plaintiffs), appeal from the judgment of dismissal rendered by the Superior Court in favor of the defendants, The Washington Trust Company (trust company) and Lauren K. Drury, vice president and senior fiduciary

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officer of the trust company.[1] The plaintiffs had appealed to the Superior Court from a decision of the Probate Court for the district of New London. On appeal, the plaintiffs have asserted numerous claims as to why the court erred in dismissing their probate appeal[2] but principally argue that the court improperly dismissed their appeal as untimely. In its brief to this [191 Conn.App. 590] court, the trust company claims that Burton[3] is not aggrieved by the Probate Court’s decision and, therefore, her appeal should be dismissed. We agree that Burton is not aggrieved by the Probate Court’s decision. We also conclude that the Superior Court properly dismissed the plaintiffs’ probate appeal because it was not timely filed. We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

         We begin with a summary of the underlying facts and procedural history, which we have gleaned from our review of the record in the present case and the file in Burton v. Burton, Superior Court, judicial district of New London, Docket No. CV-15-5014962-S (May 10, 2017) (2015 appeal).[4] The issues in both cases are related to the June K. Burton Revocable Trust (trust) that was created by June K. Burton (settlor) on February 19, 1998. Burton and Margaret Jackson are two of the settlor’s children, and Miarden Jackson is the settlor’s grandson. When the settlor died on March 23, 2003, the trust company succeeded her as trustee. The settlor’s will directed that her residuary estate was to be placed in the trust and distributed, pursuant to a formula, to the settlor’s children, i.e., Margaret Jackson, Burton, and John Burton; to her grandchildren; and to one other person. The trust company distributed the trust property in accordance with the trust instrument in 2008. John Burton died on December 26, 2013, and subtrusts were created for the benefit of his children.[5]

         [191 Conn.App. 591] Circa 2012, Burton learned that the treasurer of the state of Connecticut was holding unclaimed property (funds) of the settlor. The Probate Court appointed Burton as temporary administrator of the settlor’s

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estate for the purpose of filing a claim for the funds. Due to a delay in the release of the funds, Burton’s temporary appointment expired, and the Probate Court appointed Attorney Patrick L. Poeschl as temporary administrator of the settlor’s estate to claim the funds. Upon receipt of the funds, Poeschl placed the funds in an escrow account and applied to the Probate Court to allow the amended final accounting and an order of distribution of the settlor’s estate. He also petitioned the Probate Court to terminate the subtrusts, allowing him to distribute the funds directly to the beneficiaries of the subtrusts. Burton opposed Poeschl’s proposed distribution, claiming that it was at odds with the distribution directed by the trust instrument. The Probate Court approved Poeschl’s proposal and, on June 30, 2015, issued an order and decree granting Poeschl’s application and petition.[6]

         On September 2, 2015, Burton commenced the 2015 appeal from the June 30, 2015 order and decree and filed a complaint against Orsolya Burton as guardian [191 Conn.App. 592] of the minor Julia Burton and as executrix on the estate of John Burton, and against the trust company.[7] In the 2015 appeal, Burton alleged, among other things, that Poeschl’s distribution awarded John Burton’s lapsed one-sixth share of the trust to Orsolya Burton, as executrix of his estate, thereby divesting John Burton’s "three children" of their rightful shares pursuant to the trust instrument. She also alleged that, as a named beneficiary of the trust, she is entitled to a one-sixth share of any and all trust property and that termination of the trust in accordance with the terms proposed by Poeschl diminished the monetary value of the trust property to which she is lawfully entitled. She claimed that she was aggrieved by the order of the Probate Court because she will suffer an economic loss directly attributable to the decree unless it is set aside.

         Orsolya Burton filed a motion to dismiss the appeal claiming that Burton was not aggrieved by the June 30, 2015 order and decree. The trust company joined the motion to dismiss. The trial court, Vacchelli, J., granted the motion to dismiss in a memorandum of decision dated January 29, 2016. The court concluded that Burton was not aggrieved by the order and decree of the Probate Court, which permitted ...

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