marital estate. Accordingly, Seebold requests summary judgment on behalf
of herself and her children Aaron and Rebecca Fielding, the designated
beneficiaries of the Trust assets.
Because the Court finds that Plaintiff has submitted competent summary
judgment evidence that the Trust was not properly created, and Seebold
has failed to refute this evidence, the Court will grant Plaintiff
partial summary judgment on this ground, and need not reach Plaintiff's
two remaining arguments.
Plaintiff contends that the Trust is defective for a variety of
reasons. She claims that the Trust is "invalid per se" because the
"Trustee's Authorized Signature" is blank on the one-page "Application
for IRA" signed by decedent on April 18, 1996, which created the Trust.
See Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J., at 7. Plaintiff contends that the "IRA
Trust Document express [sic] requires approval by the Trustee."
Plaintiff cites, for example, the provision in the Trust application
which states that "[a]n incomplete or unsigned form cannot be accepted."
Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. B, at 1. More generally, Plaintiff argues
that there is simply no evidence that the Trustee, Delaware Charter,
ever took title to the IRA assets, or manifested acceptance of the Trust
agreement, as required by law. Plaintiff contends that Delaware
Charter's failure to take title to the Trust assets precludes
identifying the underlying transaction as the creation of a trust.
"No particular form of words or conduct is necessary to manifest an
intention to create a trust." Cabaniss v. Cabaniss, 464 A.2d 87, 91
(D.C. 1983) (citing Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 23 & cmt. a).
The settlor (in this case, decedent) need only manifest the "intention
to create a trust." Id. This can be established through "written or
spoken language or by conduct"; no legal terms of art are required. Id.
Plaintiff does not appear to contest that decedent manifested the
requisite intent to create the Trust.
However, the law of the District of Columbia does require that the
trustee take title to the trust assets — whether such assets are in the
form of bank accounts, securities or personal property — in order to create
a trust. See Ottenberg v. Ottenberg, 194 F. Supp. 98, 102 (D.D.C. 1961)
(internal citations omitted); Cabaniss, 464 A.2d at 91 (noting that trust
property must be "held" by the trustee); Restatement (Second) of Trusts
§ 35 cmt. a ("If the owner of property intends to make a transfer of
the property in trust but the title to the property does not pass to the
intended trustee . . ., no trust is created and the title to the property
remains in the owner free of trust."). Absent title to the trust assets,
the trustee cannot exercise any meaningful control over the trust res,
and therefore there can be no "trust."
In the present case, Plaintiff contends that Delaware Charter did not
take title to the Trust funds, so as to effectively place decedent's
R-IRA account assets into trust. Plaintiff submits a declaration from
Lawrence Judge, Lafayette Investment's administrative officer, stating
that to his knowledge title was never transferred to Delaware Charter
and that Lafayette Investments did not acknowledge Delaware Charter's
right to exercise any control over the Trust funds. See Pl.'s Reply to
Seebold's Opp'n, Ex. C (Decl. of Lawrence Judge), at 2.*fn11 Plaintiff
also submits a Statement of Material Facts in [sic] Dispute, pursuant to
Local Civil Rule 56.1, that "No transfer of title of decedent Byron
Fielding's assets to Delaware Charter as trustee ever occurred."*fn12
Seebold fails to refute Plaintiff's claim. Seebold argues that "it is
undisputed that Delaware Charter Guarantee & Trust, as trustee, took
legal title to the assets delivered by Mr. Fielding, and placed the
assets in Account # 274-82006 with Lafayette Investments." Seebold's
Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J., at 7. The only evidence Seebold points
to in support of this claim is an exhibit which she states "reflect[s]
Delaware Charter as Trustee of Mr. Fielding's R-IRA Trust Account." Id.
However, the exhibit cited does not in any way support Seebold's claim.
Its first page simply states in the upper right hand corner the
Guarantee & Trust Co. TTEE FBO
Byron Fielding R-IRA
4850 Reservoir Road NW
Washington, DC 20007-1561
Pl.'s Mot for Summ. J., Ex. C, at 1. The five lines listed above contain
the only reference to a "trust" in the entire account statement. Further,
the name of the putative trustee, Delaware Charter, is not listed
anywhere on the account statement.
In addition, Seebold's contention that it was Delaware Charter, rather
than Lafayette Investments, which "placed the [IRA] assets in Account
# 274-82006 with Lafayette Investment," not only lacks any evidentiary
support, but is also directly refuted by the declaration of Mr. Judge.
That declaration states, and Seebold has failed to contest, that "[o]n
or about April 18, 1996 Byron Fielding came into [Lafayette Investment's]
offices . . . and executed an application for an IRA account. . . .
Between April 22, 1996 and July 17, 1996, the checks [taken from
decedent's previous tax-deferred funds] were deposited into B.T. Alex
Brown bank accounts." Pl.'s Reply to Seebold's Opp'n, Ex. C, at ¶¶ 4, 6.
From this chronology, there is simply no indication that Delaware Charter
ever held title to the IRA assets, and Seebold has failed to produce even
a scintilla of evidence to refute this fact.*fn13
Accordingly, the Court concludes as a matter of law, on this record,
that the Trust was not validly created because the Trustee did not take
title to the Trust assets. Therefore, the Court must deny Seebold's
motion for summary judgment. The Court grants partial summary judgment
in favor of Plaintiff; to fully succeed on the merits, however, she must
establish that she and decedent were common law husband and wife.*fn14
Upon consideration of the relevant pleadings, and the entire record
herein, for the reasons stated above, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [# 61] is granted
in part and denied in part; and it is further
ORDERED that Defendant Jayne Seebold's Cross Motion for Summary
Judgment [# 62] is denied. An order will issue with this Opinion.
DENYING DEFENDANT SEEBOLD'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jayne Seebold's Motion
for Reconsideration [# 88] of this Court's Memorandum Opinion dated
August 15, 2000.
Defendant Seebold has filed a motion for reconsideration pursuant to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(e) and 60.[fn1a] Such a motion
should be granted only if the Court "finds that there is an intervening
change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need
to correct a clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Firestone v.
Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C.Cir. 1996) (internal citations and
quotations omitted). In other words, the moving party (Seebold) must
show "new facts or clear errors of law which compel the court to change
its prior position." National Ctr. for Mfg. Sciences v. Department of
Defense, 199 F.3d 507, 511 (D.C.Cir. 2000) (internal citation omitted).
A motion for reconsideration should not be granted if a party is simply
attempting to renew factual or legal arguments that it asserted in its
original briefs. See Assassination Archives and Research Ctr. v. United
States Dept. of Justice, 828 F. Supp. 100, 101-102 (D.D.C. 1993).
"Reconsideration is not simply an opportunity to reargue facts and
theories upon which a court has already ruled." State of New York v.
United States, 880 F. Supp. 37, 38 (D.D.C. 1995).
Seebold has failed to make the requisite showing. First, there has
been no intervening change of law. Second, Seebold has failed to present
any new evidence that was not previously available and which would alter
this Court's conclusions as expressed in its Memorandum Opinion.[fn2a]
Finally, Seebold's motion for reconsideration has failed to establish a
clear error of law or fact in the Court's Memorandum Opinion. Her motion
merely restates or rephrases arguments that the Court has already
rejected after careful consideration of the entire record. Further,
Seebold has provided absolutely no reason why reconsideration would be
necessary to prevent manifest injustice.
Accordingly, it is this 2nd day of October 2000
ORDERED, that Defendant Jayne Seebold's motion for reconsideration
[# 88] is DENIED.