Paul v. Arvidson, 100,014.

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Citation123 P.3d 808,2005 OK CIV APP 85
Docket NumberNo. 100,014.,100,014.
PartiesCynthia PAUL & Michael Paul, Plaintiffs, v. Tracy L. ARVIDSON & James T. Arvidson, Plaintiff Intervenors/Appellees, v. Maggie Stewart, Defendant/Appellant.
Decision Date15 July 2005

Page 808

123 P.3d 808
2005 OK CIV APP 85
Cynthia PAUL & Michael Paul, Plaintiffs,
Tracy L. ARVIDSON & James T. Arvidson, Plaintiff Intervenors/Appellees,
Maggie Stewart, Defendant/Appellant.
No. 100,014.
Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 1.
July 15, 2005.
Rehearing Denied August 11, 2005.
Certiorari Denied October 24, 2005.
Released for Publication by Order of the Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma, Division No. 1.

Appeal from the District Court of Tulsa County, Oklahoma; Honorable Gregory K. Frizzell, Judge.


Grant E. Cheadle, Cheadle & Associates, Inc., Tulsa, OK, for Plaintiff Intervenors/Appellees.

John A. Akey, Tulsa, OK, for Defendants/Appellants.

Opinion by BAY MITCHELL, Judge.

¶ 1 This appeal comes from a declaratory judgment where the trial court held that the real property known as 4535 E. 32nd Place in Tulsa, was the corpus of "The Thomas E. Stewart and Dorothy L. Stewart Revocable Trust Dated October 29, 1992" (Trust No. 1). The court held the surviving Grantor, Thomas Stewart, had not revoked this trust in writing and delivered to the Trustee, as required by the terms of that trust, when he created the "Thomas E. Stewart and Maggie Sue Stewart Revocable Living Trust Agreement Dated July 15th, 1999" (Trust No. 2),

Page 809

or by deeding the subject property to Trust No. 2. The court held that because the subject property remained the corpus of Trust No. 1, Thomas could not convey title to the property as an individual. The trial court denied motions to vacate, reconsider and to clarify the judgment.

¶ 2 The subject of trusts is one of equitable cognizance, and the trial court's judgment will only be reversed if it is clearly contrary to the weight of the evidence or contrary to law. Matter of Edwards Irrevocable Trust, 1998 OK CIV APP 144, ¶ 2, 966 P.2d 810, 812. Further, we review the denial of a new trial only to determine if the trial court abused it discretion or applied an incorrect legal standard. Jones, Givens, Gotcher & Bogan, P.C. v. Berger, 2002 OK 31, ¶ 5, 46 P.3d 698, 701. However, even though a trial court is vested with wide discretion in denying a new trial, we must reverse if the trial court erred regarding a pure question of law. Id.

¶ 3 Here, we hold the court erred as a matter of law when it found Thomas, who was the sole Grantor and Trustee under Trust No. 1, was required to deliver formal written notice of revocation to himself. We hold Thomas successfully revoked Trust No. 1 as to the subject property by establishing Trust No. 2, in which he intended to include all his property, and by deeding the subject property to Trust No. 2.

¶ 4 This lawsuit began as a breach of contract and specific performance action by Plaintiffs Cynthia and Michael Paul, who filed suit against Maggie and Thomas Stewart to enforce the sale of the subject property. They settled when Maggie agreed to sell the property. However, before the sales price could be paid to Maggie, Tracy and James Arvidson intervened, claiming they should be paid the sales price because the property sold was the corpus of Trust No. 1 of which they were beneficiaries. They noted Thomas and his first wife, Dorothy Stewart, had established a revocable inter vivos trust in 1992 (Trust No. 1) that was funded by the subject property, along with certain stocks, savings accounts and household contents. Thomas and Dorothy had executed a Quitclaim Deed to ". . . Thomas E. Stewart and Dorothy L. Stewart, Trustees of the Thomas E. Stewart and Dorothy L. Stewart Revocable Trust dated October 29th, 1992 . . ."

¶ 5 Trust No. 1 included a reservation of the right by the Grantors to revoke or modify the trust in whole or in part, or change the beneficiaries without notice or consent to any person, other than by written notice delivered to the Trustees. The only Trustees were Thomas and Dorothy Stewart. After Dorothy died in November of 1998, Thomas was the sole surviving Trustee and Grantor for Trust No. 1. James and Tracy Arvidson, who were Thomas' step-grandchildren, were beneficiaries of Trust No. 1. After Dorothy's death, Thomas amended Trust No. 1 on December 17, 1998 so that after specific bequests were made, Maggie would inherit half of the Trust benefits, and the other half would be split between James Arvidson, Tracy Arvidson and Barbara Jean Chatham, who was Thomas' daughter. The amended trust is referred to as Trust No. 1-A.

¶ 6 Approximately six months later on June 3, 1999, Thomas married Maggie. Then, on July 15, 1999, Thomas and Maggie Stewart executed Trust No. 2. Maggie and Thomas were co-trustees, and the surviving spouse was the main beneficiary, with Tracy Arvidson and James Arvidson each receiving only one dollar. Trust No. 2 declared that it held "all real and personal property herein as evidenced by the...

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7 cases
  • Gelber v. Glock, Record No. 160500
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • June 22, 2017
    ...trustee, requiring attorney-in-fact to give notice to himself as trustee of revocation of trust "would be an idle act"); Paul v. Arvidson, 123 P.3d 808, 810 (Okla. Civ. App. 2005) (noting that "when the grantor and the trustee are the same person, requiring strict compliance with formal del......
  • Alerus Financial v. Western State Bank, 20070066.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • June 5, 2008 the terms of the trust ...."); compare N.D.C.C. § 59-14-02(3) (Supp.2007) (containing U.T.C. § 602)). See also Paul v. Arvidson, 123 P.3d 808, 811 (Okla.Civ.App.2005) (dismissing requirement that sole remaining grantor/trustee deliver notice to self as absurd and holding grantor revoked ......
  • McEachern v. Budnick, 11–P–343.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • April 2, 2012
    ...948, 274 Ill.Dec. 496, 791 N.E.2d 588 (2003); In re Trust Created by Cease, 267 Neb. 753, 760, 677 N.W.2d 495 (2004); Paul v. Arvidson, 123 P.3d 808, 810–811 (Okla.Civ.App.2005).14 [964 N.E.2d 1005] Finally, we observe that evaluating the question of delivery under ordinary principles in ci......
  • Stratton v. Stephens, Case No. 118,958
    • United States
    • United States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Civil Appeals of Oklahoma
    • October 29, 2021
    ...this appeal.STANDARD OF REVIEW ¶4 The subject of trusts is one of equitable cognizance. Paul v. Arvidson , 2005 OK CIV APP 85, ¶ 2, 123 P.3d 808, 809. Matters of equitable cognizance are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Missouri, Kansas-Texas Railroad Co. v. Dist. Court , 1956 OK 9, ¶ 1......
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