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Wolfram v. Wolfram

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 16, 2015

BLAIR F. WOLFRAM, Plaintiff,
v.
SANDRA M. WOLFRAM, REBECCA A. WOLFRAM, and CHARLES URBAN, Defendants

Page 759

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 760

For Blair F. Wolfram, Plaintiff: Michael Patrick McElroy, Kelleher & Buckley, North Barrington, IL.

For Sandra M Wolfram, Rebecca A Wolfram, Defendants: James Richard Carey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Levin Schreder & Company, Chicago, IL; Robin D. Maher, Levin & Schreder Ltd, Chicago, IL.

Charles Urban, Defendant, Pro se, Wauwatosa, WI.

Page 761

Memorandum Opinion and Order

Honorable Edmond E. Chang, United States District Judge.

Duane Wolfram's will ordered his executor to create two trusts. One, the Marital Trust, was to provide for Duane's wife, Sandra Wolfram. The other, the Family Trust, was to provide for Sandra and Duane's children, including Blair Wolfram. (Sandra is Blair's stepmother.) Sandra was executor of Duane's estate and a co-trustee of the two trusts. Duane died and his estate went through probate in the late 1990s. Now, Blair sues Sandra, alleging that she kept Duane's money for herself instead of funding and administering the trusts per Duane's wishes.[1] (He also names Rebecca Wolfram and Charles Urban as defendants but does not allege that they did anything wrong; they are named as necessary parties.) Sandra moves to dismiss. R. 13. For the reasons stated below, her motion is denied.

I. Background

Duane Wolfram died in 1996, leaving a will and codicil. Compl. ¶ ¶ 9-11. Sandra Wolfram, Duane's wife, administered Duane's estate. Id. ¶ 20. The will instructed Sandra to establish a Marital Trust and a Family Trust, funding them with specified assets from Duane's estate. Id. ¶ ¶ 15, 17. The will named Sandra, Duane's wife, as co-trustee of both trusts. Id. ¶ 19. (The other co-trustee was Warren D. Moburg, who is Sandra's brother. Id.) Blair Wolfram was a named beneficiary of the Family Trust. Id. ¶ 18.

As executor, Sandra owed a fiduciary duty to the legatees of Duane's will, including Blair. Id. ¶ 29; see also In re Estate of Talty, 376 Ill.App.3d 1082, 877 N.E.2d 1195, 1204, 315 Ill.Dec. 866 (Ill. Ct.App. 2007) (" The executor owes a fiduciary duty to both the testator's estate and the beneficiaries named in the will." ). And, as trustee of the trusts, Sandra owed a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trusts, including, again, Blair. Id. ¶ 30; see also Obermaier v. Obermaier, 128 Ill.App.3d 602, 470 N.E.2d 1047, 1051, 83 Ill.Dec. 627 (Ill. Ct.App. 1984) (" A trustee owes the highest duty to his beneficiary to fully and completely disclose

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all material facts when he is dealing with the trust." ). According to the complaint's allegations, which must be accepted as true at this stage of the case, since Duane's death, Blair was " led to believe that [the] Family Trust had been funded." Id. ¶ 23.

Yet, despite the will's instructions, Sandra never funded the trusts. Id. ¶ 26, 28. Instead, Sandra took control of the assets and used them for her own benefit, cutting out Blair and the other beneficiaries. Id. ¶ 36. Nonetheless, the probate of Duane's estate closed in 1997 with the probate court noting that " all acts necessary for the full administration of the estate have been performed according to law." R. 14 [Def.'s Br.] at Exh. A.[2]

At some point, Blair started to ask Sandra about the Family Trust. Blair wrote her in 2013, asking for the name of the lawyer administering the Family Trust. Compl. ¶ 24. Sandra refused to tell him, calling the information " personal and private." Id.; Compl. at Exh. 3. She did, however, confirm that Blair was a named beneficiary. Id. Sandra also refused Blair's request for an accounting of her actions as trustee. Id. ΒΆ 27. Blair also apparently sought information from Warren Moburg, who is Sandra's brother and the man designated by the will as Sandra's ...


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