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George Seccombe and other heirs of Olaf Nasset ("Nasset heirs") and the intervener plaintiffs, Slawson Exploration Company, Inc., and Alameda Energy, Inc., appealed a judgment deciding ownership of certain minerals in Mountrail County, North Dakota. Olaf Nasset died in November 1961, and Lakeside State Bank, as executor of his estate, petitioned the county court for authority to sell real property belonging to the estate. On August 6, 1962, the county court ordered the final discharge of the executor. A few days later, the executor petitioned to re-open the estate because reserved mineral interests were inadvertently left out of the final decree and it was necessary that the estate be reopened for the sole purpose of correcting the error by entering an amended final decree of distribution including the 1/2 mineral interest. The county court granted the petition. On August 10, 1962, an amended final decree of distribution was entered, stating each of the five named heirs received a 1/10 mineral interest. In 2012, the Nasset heirs sued the heirs of Gilbert Rohde and other parties claiming an interest in the minerals through the Rohde heirs. The Nasset heirs sought to quiet title and determine ownership of the minerals, revision of the executor's deed, and damages for a slander of title claim. They alleged the original heirs of Olaf Nasset intended to reserve a one-half mineral interest and they are entitled to receive legal title to one-half of the minerals as provided in the published notice of sale of the real property and the amended executor's deed. The Nasset heirs also sued Lakeside for breach of fiduciary duty, alleging Lakeside had fiduciary obligations to the estate, it was aware or should have been aware of the heirs' intention to retain a one-half mineral interest, and it breached its fiduciary duty by executing the executor's deed to Gilbert Rohde without properly reserving the mineral interests.The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Rohde heirs and against the Nasset heirs, quieted title in favor of the Rohde heirs, and dismissed the Nasset heirs' claim for slander of title. The district court concluded the Rohde heirs own the minerals because the original executor's deed approved by the court was final, a legal action was required to undo the executor's deed, neither the heirs nor the executor commenced an action to correct or vacate the deed, and therefore the subsequent orders and the amended deed had no effect. The court also concluded the Nasset heirs' claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Seccombe v. Rohde" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s application for a decree of summary distribution of real property of the estate of her grandfather (Decedent) on the ground that Appellant lacked standing to file the application, holding that the district court did not err in its analysis of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 2-1-205. Section 2-1-205 concerns who can file as a distributed and from whom a distributed may claim. On appeal, Appellant argued that she was a distributee of Decedent’s estate and therefore had standing to apply for summary distribution of Decedent’s real property. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the definition of distributee applies solely to persons who are entitled to property of a decedent through that decedent’s will or the statutes of intestate succession as applied to that decedent; and (2) Appellant was not a distributee of Decedent’s estate, and therefore, Appellant was not a proper applicant under section 2-1-205. View "In re Estate of Chris Robert Frank" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that, to the extent a surviving spouse’s shares of a deceased spouse’s estate exceeds $25,000, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 191, 15, the Commonwealth’s elective share statute, reduces his or her interest in the real property from outright ownership to a life estate. The dispute here centered on the nature of a surviving spouse’s interest in a deceased spouse’s real property where the surviving spouse’s shares of the decedent’s personal and real property together exceeded $25,000 in value. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) where a surviving spouse elects to waive the provisions of a deceased spouse’s will in accordance with section 15 and the decedent left issue, the surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the decedent’s personal property and one-third of the decedent’s real property; (2) the above is subject to the limitation that if the surviving spouse’s shares of the real and property property, taken together, exceed $25,000 in value, then the surviving spouse takes $25,000 absolutely and a life estate in any remaining real property; and (3) further, any remaining personal property must be held in trust for the duration of the surviving spouse’s life with the surviving spouse entitled to the income therefrom. View "Ciani v. MacGrath" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Oregon Supreme Court: Under Oregon law, does a constructive trust arise at the moment of purchase of a property using fraudulently-obtained funds, or does it arise when a court orders that a constructive trust be imposed as a remedy? View "Wadsworth v. Talmage" on Justia Law

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Gregory and Andrea Chernushin owned a second home in Colorado in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Eventually, Mr. Chernushin (not Ms. Chernushin) filed for bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy proceedings, Mr. Chernushin died. The bankruptcy trustee, Robertson Cohen, then filed an adversary complaint against Ms. Chernushin, seeking to sell the home. Ms. Chernushin argued the bankruptcy estate no longer included any interest in the home because Mr. Chernushin’s joint tenancy interest ended at his death. The bankruptcy court agreed with Ms. Chernushin, as did the district court on appeal. The trustee appealed, but the Tenth Circuit concurred the bankruptcy estate had no more interest in the home than Mr. Chernushin and Mr. Chernushin’s interest extinguished when he died. View "Cohen v. Chernushin" on Justia Law

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Mary Chmielewski, as personal representative of the estate of Yvonne Speer Hoover, deceased; Grace Ellis; and Roger Stone petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Baldwin Circuit Court to vacate an order purporting to set aside its earlier dismissal of a will contest. Hoover executed a will in May 2017. Hoover's will designated Tere Mills as a beneficiary of Hoover's estate. A codicil to Hoover's will was executed shortly before Hoover died in July 2017. The codicil eliminated Mills as a beneficiary of Hoover's estate and added Ellis and Stone as beneficiaries. After Hoover died, her will, along with the codicil, was admitted to probate, and letters testamentary were issued to Chmielewski. Thereafter, pursuant to section 43-8-199, Ala. Code 1975, Mills filed a petition in the circuit court contesting the validity of Hoover's will, as amended by the codicil. It was alleged that the circuit court entered final orders disposing of the action and, no postjudgment motion having been filed within 30 days, lost jurisdiction over the matter. Thereafter, the circuit court, allegedly without jurisdiction, entered an order purporting to grant a postjudgment motion and to reinstate the proceedings. Because the Supreme Court concluded that the proceedings were indeed dismissed, it granted the petition and directed the circuit court to set aside its order purporting to vacate the dismissal. View "Ex parte Chmielewski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Keller Williams Realty in this lawsuit against Donna Rook, successor personal representative of the estate of Donald Lienemann (the Estate), holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Keller and in denying summary judgment in favor of the Estate. In granting summary judgment for Keller, the district court found that Keller had established that the Estate breached a contract involving the sale of real property. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court had jurisdiction to decide the validity of Keller’s claim; and (2) the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Keller. The Court remanded the cause to the district court with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of the Estate. View "Eagle Partners, LLC v. Rook" on Justia Law

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Stockird's handwritten will transferred “all my property and everything I may be entitled to inherit” to her life partner, Aguirre, and an aunt-by-marriage, Ambrose. The will did not include alternative provisions for disposition if either gift lapsed. Ambrose died before Stockird. After Stockird died, Aguirre sought a declaration that he is entitled to Stockird’s entire estate as the sole surviving residuary beneficiary under Probate Code 21111(b). Stockird’s halfbrother, Ramsden, argued the lapsed gift to Ambrose must pass to Stockird’s estate under section 21111(a)(3) and that as Stockird’s only surviving heir, he is entitled to Ambrose’s share under the laws of intestacy. The probate court agreed with Ramsden. The court of appeal reversed, finding that the trial court misinterpreted section 21111(b). The definition of “transferee” as kindred in section 21110(c) applies to section 21110, but the more general definition of “transferee,” as a “beneficiary, donee, or other recipient of an interest transferred by an instrument,” applies in section 21111(b). Given the clear intent of the Legislature to abolish the “no residue of a residue” rule and avoid intestacy, the 35 percent lapsed gift does not go to Stockird’s estate under section 21111(a)(3), but, subject to determination of Ambrose's descendants' reformation petition, must pass to Aguirre under section 21111(b). View "Estate of Stockird" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff’s probate court appeals for his failure to comply with several court orders, holding that the superior court justice properly exercised his discretion in dismissing Plaintiff’s appeals. Ostensibly acting as successor executor for the wills of two former clients, Appellant challenged probate court orders relating to guardianship decrees. The superior court dismissed Appellant’s five probate court appeals for Appellant’s failure to comply with the court’s orders. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the superior court justice did not abuse his discretion; and (2) because Appellant’s representations to the probate courts, the superior court, and the Supreme Court were not as forthcoming as the rules of procedure require, the case is remanded to allow Defendants an opportunity to file a motion for sanctions if they so choose. View "Malinou v. Neri" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant’s motion to amend her complaint to name the personal representative of her deceased husband’s estate as the proper party defendant and dismissing the action as time-barred, holding that the circuit court did not err. The decedent executed a holographic will that excluded his wife, Ray, as a beneficiary of his estate. Following her husband’s death, Appellant filed an action to claim her elective share of the augmented estate. The administratrix of the estate was not named as a party to the action. When Appellant realized the error, she requested that the circuit court enter an order adding the administratrix to the complaint as a party defendant. The circuit court denied the motion and dismissed the action as time-barred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant failed to identify the proper party defendant in the complaint as filed; and (2) Appellant was time-barred from bringing a new and proper action against the estate’s personal representative. View "Ray v. Ready" on Justia Law