Plaintiff: Rebecca M. Murphy, Esq.
Defendant: James A. Bigos, Esq.
before the Court are cross Motions for Summary Judgment. The
Motions arise out of the interpretation of the estate
planning documents executed by Constantine W. Pournaras (the
decedent). Plaintiff, Elaine Jaffe (Jaffe), is the
decedent's surviving daughter and Defendant, William C.
Pournaras (Pournaras), is the decedent's surviving son.
decedent passed away on November 10, 2012. His estate plan
consisted of three documents. The first, the Constantine W.
Pournaras Living Trust (the Living Trust), was created on
December 2, 1993, amended and restated on August 22, 2003,
and amended and restated again on October 17, 2008. The
second, the Constantine W. Pournaras Irrevocable Living Trust
(the Irrevocable Trust), was created on August 22, 2003. The
third, the Last Will and Testament of Constantine W.
Pournaras (the Will), was executed on October 17, 2008.
Living Trust, as restated on October 17, 2008, named the
decedent as Trustor and Pournaras as Successor Trustee. It
directed the Trustee to pay the decedent's residuary
estate to Pournaras and further provided that "[i]f my
trust own liquid resources, [the] trustee shall pay to . . .
ELAINE A. JAFFE the sum of Fifty-Thousand ($50, 000)
Dollars from those liquid resources." The Second
Amendment and Restatement of the Living Trust, Article IV,
Irrevocable Trust similarly named the decedent as Trustor,
but named Pournaras as Initial Trustee rather than Successor
Trustee. Upon the decedent's death, the Trustee of the
Irrevocable Trust was directed to divide "into separate
and equal shares . . . all of the Trust Estate not previously
distributed, " Irrevocable Trust, Article VIII, Section
1, and to "create one share for each of [the
decedent's] then living children, " id. at
Irrevocable Trust also reserved to the decedent the power,
"exercisable by written instrument during [his] lifetime
or by Will or any Codicil thereto, to appoint any part or all
of the Trust Estate to or for the benefit of any of [his]
descendants, in equal or unequal amounts, either directly or
in Trust, as [he] may direct." Id. at Article
IV, Section 2. This "limited power of appointment"
was not to be exercised "in favor of [the
decedent's] estate, the creditors of [his] estate or in
any way that would result in any economic benefit to [the
Will directed the decedent's Personal Representative to
"distribute [the decedent's] residuary estate to the
then acting Trustee of the . . . Living Trust." Last
Will and Testament, Section 6.01. The Will defined the
decedent's residuary estate as "any property over
which [he] may have a power of appointment and any insurance
proceeds which may be payable to [his] estate, less all valid
claims asserted against [his] estate and all expenses
incurred in administering [his] estate, including expenses of
administering non-probate assets and expenses of determining
any tax occasioned by [his] death." Id. at
January 2014, Pournaras filed a Petition for Probate of the
Will in the City of Cranston Probate Court. The Will was
admitted for Probate, and Pournaras was appointed Personal
Representative of the estate. Shortly thereafter, Jaffe
brought her Declaratory Judgment action.
Complaint, Jaffe alleged that Pournaras intends to
"recognize . . . Article Four, Section 2 provision of
the Irrevocable Trust as a valid exercise of the Limited
Power of Appointment, " Complaint ¶ 25, and will
"transfer assets from the Irrevocable Trust to [the
decedent's] estate, " id. Jaffe further
alleged that this "contravenes [the decedent's]
clear and unequivocal intention as expressed in Article Four,
Section 2 of the Irrevocable Trust, " id. at
¶ 26, "is contrary to . . . applicable law, "
id., and "would deprive [her] of her entire
inheritance . . . with the exception of the $50, 000 gift she
is to receive under the terms of the Living Trust, "
id. at ¶ 27. Jaffe has asked this Court to rule
that the decedent's limited power of appointment has not
been properly exercised, and to grant summary judgment in her
favor as to the construction of the testamentary instruments.
Jaffe also asks the Court to remove Pournaras as Trustee of
the Irrevocable Trust and to issue a preliminary injunction
prohibiting Pournaras from transferring the assets of the
Irrevocable Trust into the decedent's
Counterclaim, Pournaras alleged that "[t]he inclusion of
the language provisions of Section 5.01 of the [Will] was an
intentional and planned exercise of that limited power of
appointment contained within Article IV, Section II of the
[Irrevocable Trust]." Counterclaim at ¶ 17.
Pournaras then requested, in his capacity as Personal
Representative of the decedent's estate and as Trustee of
the Irrevocable Trust, a judgment declaring that the Will
contains a ...