Earl v. Beager, 00-465.

Citation304 Mont. 258, 20 P.3d 788, 2001 MT 44
Case DateMarch 20, 2001
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Montana

20 P.3d 788
2001 MT 44
304 Mont. 258

Roger E. EARL, Guardian and Conservator of Viola C. Earl, Plaintiff and Respondent,
John W. BEAGER, Rachel A. Beager, Russell S. Earl, John Conover, Jr., and Alan C. Conover, Defendants and Appellants.
John Conover, Jr., and Alan C. Conover, Counterclaimants/Appellants,
Roger E. Earl, Guardian and Conservator of Viola C. Earl, Counterdefendant/Respondent

No. 00-465.

Supreme Court of Montana.

Submitted on Briefs November 2, 2000.

Decided March 20, 2001.

20 P.3d 789
Robert T. Cummins, Attorney at Law, Helena, MT, For Appellants

Mark David Hoffman, Attorney at Law, Dillon, MT, For Respondent.

Justice JIM REGNIER delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶ 1 John Conover, Jr., and Alan C. Conover appeal from the Findings and Order issued by the Fifth Judicial District Court, Beaverhead County, granting summary judgment in favor of Roger E. Earl. We affirm.

¶ 2 The Conovers raise the following issues on appeal:

¶ 3 1. Did the District Court err in determining that the Conovers' lease to the Tom Sweet Ranch was properly terminated?

¶ 4 2. Did the District Court err in failing to address the Conovers' contention that letters written by Viola C. Earl constituted a holographic will?


¶ 5 On August 28, 1980, Viola C. Earl entered into a lease agreement with Russell S. Earl, her husband, and the Conovers concerning real property known as the Tom Sweet Ranch. Russell Earl is now deceased. The term of the lease was 99 years. The lease also provided that, upon expiration of the lease term, the lease would be extended under the same conditions to any members of the Conover family. The agreement also provided that "[i]n case of need this lease is subject to recall on demand by Viola C. Earl only."

¶ 6 In a letter dated November 2, 1998, Roger Earl, the stepson of Viola Earl, notified the Conovers that he was terminating the lease agreement. Roger stated that Viola was in a nursing home, that she did not have the assets to bear her expenses, and that in order to qualify for federal benefits she needed to liquidate her property. Roger had been appointed Viola's guardian and conservator on May 19, 1998. In a letter dated November 30, 1998, the Conovers informed Roger that they were rejecting his notice of termination. The Conovers contended that the Tom Sweet Ranch had been conveyed to them in fee.

¶ 7 On January 26, 1999, Roger filed a complaint requesting that the District Court declare the lease agreement properly terminated and issue a judgment quieting title to the ranch. On March 22, 1999, the Conovers filed an answer and counterclaim contending that Viola, by various documents and correspondence, had leased and gifted to them all of her interest in the Tom Sweet Ranch. The documents and correspondence the Conovers

20 P.3d 790
were referring to included, among others, a letter from Viola dated December 1984, in which she stated, in relevant part, the following
At the end of this Age the whole world will return to Divine Law. We don't know where the Heavenly Father and His Son will put each of us. It may be far from where we now are. So we can not make arrangements for anything past the end of this Age.
It has been, and still is, my intention that you, John and Alan, are to have the use of the ranch as long as this Age lasts. If we ever come back there we will need only our camper, as it is compact and convenient, and self contained.
The house and other buildings are to be for your use, so you do what you wish with the house.
Let's not raise the lease until it seems necessary, and you use anything there that will help you out....
Since we don't plan to be there any more, and with expenses going up all the time here, too, I can't help much with expenses there. But it is fine if you wish to fix it for your use. According to Divine Law all land belongs to our Great Creator, and our homes and his land are not taxable. So I will never sell it from you. As far as it is in my power it is for you folks to use till the end of this Age. According to the lease no one outside your family is ever to be there using the land or the buildings. It is for

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2 cases
  • U.S. v. Nava, 03-30010.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 18, 2005
    ...Kranjcec v. Belinak, 114 Mont. 26, 132 P.2d 150, 152-53 (1942); Hayes v. Moffatt, 83 Mont. 185, 271 P. 452, 454 (1928); Earl v. Beager, 304 Mont. 258, 20 P.3d 788, 791 Montana has, by statute, recognized two trust doctrines — resulting and constructive trusts — that allow parties to pierce ......
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    • United States
    • Montana United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • March 20, 2001
    ...or law may be available—one which may in fact accrue at the time judgment is entered—UFTA clearly stands on its own unambiguous terms. 20 P.3d 788 ¶ 43 We therefore conclude that, contrary to Gulf and Security's argument, the legal remedy available to the creditor in Murphy, brought under t......

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