Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin
Steven B. Aubrey, Individually, and as Beneficiary of, on behalf of, and for the benefit of the Aubrey Family Trust, Appellant
United Heritage Credit Union and Wilford P. Schroeder, Jr., Appellees
THE DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY, 201ST JUDICIAL DISTRICT
NO. D-1-GN-16-000984, HONORABLE STEPHEN YELENOSKY, JUDGE
Justices Puryear, Pemberton, and Goodwin
Melissa Goodwin, Justice
B. Aubrey, acting pro se, appeals from the trial court's
order granting the plea to the jurisdiction of appellees
United Heritage Credit Union and Wilford P. Schroeder Jr. For
the following reasons, we affirm.
to the will of Richard Buck Aubrey Sr., who died in 2004, a
Family Trust was created. Under the terms of the will, Steven
B. Aubrey's mother, Betsy Aubrey (Ms. Aubrey), is the
sole beneficiary and trustee of the Family Trust; she is
entitled to distributions of income and principal from the
Family Trust, including distributions from principal for her
"health, support, and maintenance"; and the Family
Trust terminates on her death, at which point any remaining
assets are to be distributed to Aubrey Sr.'s "then
living descendants, per stirpes."
2012, United Heritage leased real property from the Family
Trust. The lease contained an option to purchase, and United
Heritage exercised the option in April 2013. Before title to
the property was conveyed to United Heritage, it was conveyed
from the Family Trust to Ms. Aubrey and then to one of
Aubrey's brothers. Alleging harm to the trust from the
sale of the property, Aubrey sued United Heritage, its
president Schroeder, Ms. Aubrey, and his brothers. Aubrey
claimed that the property "was illegally stripped from
the Trust" and that the proceeds of the sale should have
been conveyed to the Family Trust. According to Aubrey, the
Trust did not receive any of the proceeds from the sale, and
United Heritage and Schroeder conspired with Ms. Aubrey, as
trustee, and one of his brothers to deprive the Family Trust
of the sale proceeds. Aubrey's pleaded causes of action
included trespass to try title, fraudulent transfer,
fraudulent lien or claim, fraud, tortious interference with
inheritance rights, conversion, money had and received,
unjust enrichment/quantum meruit, civil conspiracy,
negligence, gross negligence, breach of trust, and breach of
Heritage and Schroeder answered and filed a plea to the
jurisdiction, arguing that Aubrey lacked standing to bring
claims against them under a contract to which he was not a
party or for alleged damage to a trust of which he was not a
beneficiary. Attached to their plea was a copy of Aubrey
Sr.'s will. In addition to appointing Ms. Aubrey the
trustee, Aubrey Sr. granted her, as the trustee, broad
powers, including "all powers granted to trustees by the
common law or applicable statutes" and the power,
To sell, exchange, give options upon, partition, convey, or
otherwise dispose of, with or without covenants (including
covenants of warranty of title), any property which may from
time to time be or become a part of the Trust estate, at
public or private sale or otherwise, for cash or other
consideration, or on credit, and upon such terms and
conditions as the Trustee shall think advisable, and to
transfer and convey the same free of all Trusts.
filed a response to the plea to the jurisdiction with
evidence, including the affidavit of Schroeder from a
separate case. In the affidavit, Schroeder described the real
estate transaction in relevant part as follows:
3. In 2012, [United Heritage] leased real property in Travis
County, Texas from the Aubrey Family Trust. See
Lease Agreement attached hereto as Exhibit A. The lease
contained an option to purchase the leased property.
4. [United Heritage] exercised the option in April, 2013.
Shortly thereafter, [United Heritage] received a title
commitment for the property. See Ex. B. The
commitment disclosed that the property was titled in [Aubrey
Sr.]'s name. [Aubrey Sr.] is apparently the deceased
settlor of the Aubrey Family Trust.
5. The Aubrey Family Trust advised the title defect would be
addressed with corrective deeds prior to the closing and that
it would convey title to the property to [United Heritage] at
closing. [United Heritage] accepted the Trust's
representation in good faith and closed on the purchase of
the property for $300, 000.00 pursuant to the lease.
6. [United Heritage] did not "unlawfully purchase"
the property. [United Heritage] was not aware the Aubrey
Family Trust received "no consideration." [United
Heritage] did not conspire with [Aubrey's brother].
[United Heritage] did not inquire or participate in the
corrective transfers from the Aubrey Family Trust to Ms.
Betsy Aubrey to ...