Estate of Hildur P. Hollander, Decedent.
This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Estate of Hildur P. Hollander,
Filed January 25, 2000
Hennepin County District Court
James P. Mulvahill, Luther, Heckt, Cameron, & Mulvahill, P.L.L.P., 601 Carlson Parkway, Suite 750, Minnetonka, MN 55305 (for appellant John Hollander)
Luther M. Amundson, Gregory J. Duncan, Maser & Amundson, 6600 France Avenue South, Suite 425, Edina, Minnesota 55435 (for respondent Roger Hollander)
Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Short, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
A decedent's will specifically devised a parcel of land in equal shares to the decedent's four adult children. The district court authorized and directed the sale of that parcel. One of the children challenges the order for sale, alleging that the order was insufficient to transfer title to the property because of lack of consent of all four specific devisees.
By last will and testament dated December 18, 1984, Hildur P. Hollander devised her interest in her Maple Grove farm to her four children as follows:
I hereby give, devise and bequeath the following property in the following manner:
* * *
C. Maple Grove Farm. I give and devise my interest in the farm property located in Maple Grove, Hennepin County, Minnesota, in equal shares to my four (4) children.
Decedent's will was duly filed for probate. Thereafter, by order dated April 23, 1986, respondent Roger Hollander and appellant John Hollander (two of the decedent's four children) were formally appointed co-personal representatives of the estate. On November 20, 1998, respondent filed a petition requesting removal of appellant as a co-personal representative. Meanwhile, on January 8, 1999, the district court authorized the estate to solicit and receive written offers to purchase the farm property.
On February 1, 1999, the district court approved the offer of Town and Country Homes to purchase the farm property and authorized the estate to accept that offer. But Town and Country Homes then terminated the transaction. Additional purchase offers were solicited. Appellant submitted a bid through an entity called Hollander Partnership. Three other offers were also submitted, including a new offer from Town and Country.
On May 19, 1999, respondent again sought a district court order permitting him to sell the farm property. By order of May 20, 1999, the district court granted his request and approved the sale of the farm to Town and Country Homes. Respondent sold the farm property. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant contends that the estate cannot convey real property devised to a specific devisee without the specific devisee's consent or a court order directing the specific devisee to transfer title. Appellant cites In re Estate of Van Den Boom, 590 N.W.2d 350 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. May 26, 1999), for the proposition that a personal representative's power to sell real property is restricted where property has been specifically devised. But reliance on Van Den Boom is misplaced. Van Den Boom does not address what mechanism is sufficient to transfer title to a specifically devised parcel of property. Rather, Van Den Boom stands for the proposition that the life tenant of a homestead cannot defeat the expectant estate of the remaindermen. Id. at 353. In Van Den Boom, the personal representative sold the homestead with only the consent of the life tenantdecedent's widow. Id. Because the personal representative failed to obtain the consent of the remaindermen, we reversed the sale. Id. at 352-353
Appellant argues that as a specific devisee he did not consent to the sale of the farm property. We disagree. An order of the district court and appellant's own testimony demonstrate that he did consent to the sale of the property.
When respondent filed the first petition for approval and acceptance of an offer to purchase the property, appellant contested the petition and a hearing was held. The parties arrived at a stipulated agreement that was contained in the district court's order of January 8, 1999. The order finds:
The parties have stipulated that neither this order nor the subsequent order of the court approving [the] sale of the real property may be appealed by any party in their personal or representative capacities, and that all parties have waived their rights to appeal this Order or the subsequent Order of the Court approving sale of the real property.
On February 1, 1999, the district court issued an order authorizing and approving the sale of the farm property to Town and Country Homes, but Town and Country Homes later withdrew its offer. Additional offers were then solicited and received. Again, in an order dated May 20, 1999, the district court approved the sale and authorized the estate to accept a new purchase offer from Town and Country Homes (the conveyance language of the May 20, 1999, order is identical to that of the February 1, 1999, order).
Appellant contends that the stipulation clause pertained only to the February 1, 1999, order. But the parties' stipulation memorialized in the January 8, 1999, order by its own terms applies to the "subsequent order of the court approving [the] sale of the real property." The May 20, 1999, order is functionally a renewal or extension of the February 1, 1999, order and, as such, we conclude that the stipulation clause carried over to the May 20, 1999, order as evidence of appellant's consent to the sale of the property.
Moreover, we note the following testimony of appellant at the May 19, 1999, hearing:
Q: Okay. Is it your desire to have the Court approve one of the four Purchase Agreements -
Q: - that have been submitted?
Q: And you are requesting that the Court approve one of the four Purchase Agreements because you and the other co-personal representative, your brother Roger Hollander, have not reached an agreement as to which of the Purchase Agreements is in the best interests of the estate, is that right?
A: Yes it is.
Accordingly, the record demonstrates that appellant consented to the sale of the property to one of the four buyers and because the district court approved the sale to one of those buyers, we conclude the district court's order lawfully transferred the farm property to Town and Country Homes.
Finally, appellant challenges the district court's determination that the sale of the farm property to Town and Country Homes served the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Specifically, appellant argues that Pulte Homes Corporation submitted the best offer because it offered $358,000 more than Town and Country's $4,250,000 offer. But the district court found that Town and Country's offer was better because its closing would occur just 10 days after court approval, thereby providing immediate cash to the estate. In addition, the district court found that the Pulte Home's offer was less beneficial to the estate because it was "contingent, with a 180-day due diligence period, and closing [was] not scheduled until April 1, 2000." The district court's findings were not clearly erroneous.