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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Apr 11, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; and Janet M. Kleinfelter, Deputy Attorney General, Public Interest Division, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter.

Attorneys 2:

Marcia M. McMurray, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bradley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center Citizens’ Endowment Fund.

Joshua H. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellee, Estate of Hazel N. Ledford.

Judge(s): SUSANO

Hazel N. Ledford died on June 22, 1991. Her will (“the Will”) was a joint holographic one made with her husband, Wilson A. Ledford, who predeceased her. Her stepdaughter, Martha Ledford Powell, became the sole personal representative (“the Personal Representative”) and executor of her stepmother’s estate (“the Estate”). The Will was admitted to probate in July 1991, but the Personal Representative did not file her first accounting until 2009. The final accounting was filed in February 2010. The final accounting revealed that the Estate had paid approximately $350,000 toward remediation of soil contamination caused by underground petroleum storage tanks (“the USTs”) on a parcel of land Mr. Ledford conveyed before his death to a family trust. While Mrs. Ledford was never a title owner of the property, she did join in the execution of the deed to the trust. The Will left a portion of Mrs. Ledford’s residuary estate to a charitable trust. The charitable trust and the Tennessee Attorney General (sometimes referred to collectively as “the Objectors”) objected to the final accounting on the ground that the remediation payments were not a proper expense of the Estate. The court denied the objections and approved the final accounting. The court also approved, in part, the Personal Representative’s request for attorney’s fees. The Objectors appeal. We reverse.