EDNA ARCHER, HADEN BEARDSLEY, AND SARAH KATHRYN PACHECO, Appellants
JANICE MOODY, LINDA MOODY, ELIZABETH MOODY, W.L. MOODY, V, AND MOODY NATIONAL BANK, AS TRUSTEE, Appellees
Appeal from Probate Court Galveston County, Texas Trial Court
Cause No. PR-0076077
consists of Justices Boyce, Jamison, and Brown.
William J. Boyce Justice
remainder beneficiaries of a trust challenge the Galveston
County Probate Court's final judgment interpreting the
probate court concluded that the trust instrument directed a
per capita distribution of the trust estate to the remainder
beneficiaries upon the trust's termination and applied a
per stirpes distribution to the descendants of a deceased
remainder beneficiary. We reverse and remand because the
trust instrument's distribution of the trust estate upon
termination "in equal shares per stirpes"
contemplates a distribution to the remainder beneficiaries
based on their deceased ancestors' shares. Because the
beneficiaries descend from three siblings, the trust
instrument directs that the trust estate initially must be
divided into three shares; the beneficiaries' shares are
computed based upon the 1/3 interest of each of the three
siblings from whom the beneficiaries are descended.
litigants in this declaratory judgment action are remainder
beneficiaries of a trust that W.L. Moody, Jr. created in
1934. The trust corpus is a 15, 000-acre ranch located about
100 miles northwest of San Antonio near Junction, Texas.
See generally Myrick v. Moody Nat'l Bank, 336
S.W.3d 795, 796-97 (Tex. App.- Houston [1st Dist.] 2011, no
Moody, Jr.'s son was W.L. Moody, III, who in turn had
three children. The last surviving child was W.L. Moody, IV
("Bill Moody"). The parties agree that the trust
terminated when Bill Moody died in 2014.
Moody had four children. His two siblings were Edna Moody and
Virginia Moody, each of whom had two children.
appellants come from the Edna and Virginia wings of the Moody
family. Edna Archer is Edna Moody's
daughter. Sarah Kathryn Pacheco is Virginia
Moody's daughter; Haden Beardsley is the son of Virginia
Moody's other daughter, who is deceased. We refer to them
collectively as the "Edna and Virginia Moody
appellees are Bill Moody's four children: Janice Moody,
Linda Moody, Elizabeth Moody, and W.L. Moody, V. We refer to
them collectively as the "Bill Moody
family tree relevant to this appeal appears as follows:
remainder beneficiaries are W.L. Moody, III's
grandchildren: David Myrick, Edna Archer, Virginia Beardsley
(deceased and survived by Haden Beardsley), Sarah Kathryn
Pacheco, Janice Moody, Linda Moody, Elizabeth Moody, and W.L.
Moody, V (deceased). The legal dispute focuses on how to
calculate the fractional shares of the trust estate allocable
to the remainder beneficiaries when the trust terminated in
Edna and Virginia Moody Appellants interpret the trust
instrument to distribute the trust estate equally in 1/3
shares among Edna Moody, Virginia Moody, and Bill Moody.
Under this interpretation, the Edna and Virginia Moody
Appellants each receive a 1/6 undivided interest from Edna
Moody's and Virginia Moody's respective 1/3 shares,
computed as 1/3 multiplied by 1/2; the Bill Moody Appellees
each receive a 1/12 undivided interest in the trust estate
from Bill Moody's 1/3 share, computed as 1/3 multiplied
contrast, the Bill Moody Appellees interpret the trust
instrument to distribute the trust estate equally upon
termination so that each of the remainder beneficiaries
receives a 1/8 undivided interest in the trust estate.
probate court interpreted the operative trust instrument
language on cross-motions for traditional summary judgment
under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 166a(c). It granted
summary judgment in favor of the Bill Moody Appellees and
held that the remainder beneficiaries each receive an equal
1/8 undivided interest in the trust estate. The Edna and
Virginia Moody Appellants challenge the probate court's
grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bill Moody
Appellees and the denial of the appellants' cross-motion
for summary judgment.
Edna and Virginia Moody Appellants raise two issues on appeal
contending that the probate court should have granted summary
judgment in their favor and adopted their interpretation of
the operative trust instrument language. In practical terms,
adopting the appellants' interpretation means that their
individual share size increases from 1/8 to ...