Estate of Newell, Matter of, No. 88-51

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBefore CARDINE, C.J., THOMAS, URBIGKIT and MACY, JJ., and BROWN; URBIGKIT
Citation765 P.2d 1353
Docket NumberNo. 88-51
Decision Date15 December 1988
PartiesIn the Matter of the ESTATE OF Elizabeth NEWELL, Deceased. Donald L. NEWELL and Earl R. Cherry, Jr., Personal Representatives of the Estate of Elizabeth Newell, Deceased, Appellants (Petitioners), v. Joanne Read TRUMPER, Donna I. Read Douglas, and James L. Read, Appellees (Protestants).

Page 1353

765 P.2d 1353
In the Matter of the ESTATE OF Elizabeth NEWELL, Deceased.
Donald L. NEWELL and Earl R. Cherry, Jr., Personal Representatives of the Estate of Elizabeth Newell, Deceased, Appellants (Petitioners),
v.
Joanne Read TRUMPER, Donna I. Read Douglas, and James L. Read, Appellees (Protestants).
No. 88-51.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Dec. 15, 1988.

Page 1354

Donald E. Jones of Jones and Graham Law Offices, Torrington, for appellants.

Eric M. Alden of Jones, Jones, Vines & Hunkins, Wheatland, for appellees.

Before CARDINE, C.J., THOMAS, URBIGKIT and MACY, JJ., and BROWN, J., Retired. *

URBIGKIT, Justice.

This is a second stage probate case appeal taken from a decree of distribution where the apportionment of taxes and expenses is questioned. The trial court, in an Amended Final Report, Accounting and Decree of Final Distribution following reversal and remand in Douglas v. Newell, 719 P.2d 971 (Wyo.1986) (Newell I), determined that inheritance tax, estate tax, debts, charges, as well as estate operational and administrative expenses should be charged to the estate rather than the specific beneficiaries. We affirm.

Appellants frame the issues as:

1. Does Douglas v. Newell require that the contract balance and interest thereon be treated as a specific bequest which does not abate in any manner for the payment of debts, charges, expenses and federal and state taxes under W.S. § 2-7-808?

2. Does the balance of a contract of sale substituted for a devise of real property by operation of W.S. § 2-6-109(b) remain a specific devise or become a general pecuniary legacy?

3. Is income from the gift to the Read heirs exempt from the provisions of W.S. § 2-7-802, directing income of the estate to be first used for payment of care, management and settlement of the estate?

4. Is the gift to the Read heirs exempt from the provisions of W.S. § 2-10-103, relating to apportionment of federal estate taxes, and former W.S. § 39-6-806(b), relating to state inheritance taxes? [Footnotes omitted.]

FACTS

As earlier considered in Newell I, 719 P.2d 971, 1 the facts of this contested probate will only be re-examined as necessary to illuminate the particularized issues now presented. Originally, controversy arose over the will of Elizabeth Newell (decedent) between two grandsons, primary residual beneficiaries, and two nieces and two nephews, as then stated specific devisees. The object of litigative disagreement was whether the Read ranch interest in Converse

Page 1355

County, which the decedent received from her brother, was for probate as a specific devise to be considered property of the decedent at the time of her death. 2 The decedent owned the land at the time of drafting the will, but her interest with that of other co-owners had been sold by a contract for deed about two years before her death. Thus, the status of the decedent's annual payments collected under the installment contract of $117,438.73 and the interest attributable to the contract payments is questioned. Also advanced in present appeal is apportionment of taxes and attribution of accrued expenses during the six years of administration.

In first appeal, the parties brought a declaratory judgment seeking the proper construction of the will and to determine whether a will provision would lapse or adeem. 3 After both sides moved for summary judgment, the trial court then granted partial summary judgment to each--in favor of the Read heirs, the nieces and nephew, finding the provision did not lapse, but in favor of the trustees that the devise did adeem. This court reversed by determining that the proviso as an enforceable specific bequest neither lapsed nor adeemed. Newell I, 719 P.2d at 972.

ANALYSIS

In the essence of three of the four issues pursued by appellants is a request for this court to reconsider Newell I. Two words accurately sum up this part of the case: res judicata.

"Res judicata is a fact of the Anglo-American system of unified adjudication.

'A court does not face a legal problem as a new, pristine blackboard "never writ upon." Decisions are mirrors of past decisions and in turn are reflected in the decisions of the future. The continuum can no more be broken than can reflecting mirrors be interrupted.' A. Vestal, Res Judicata/Preclusion at V-3 (1969).

"The doctrine of res judicata is that a judgment, decided upon the merits by a court with jurisdiction, is conclusive of that cause of action and facts or issues litigated, both to the parties and their privies in any other action in the same or different court of concurrent jurisdiction on the same issues. 46 Am.Jur.2d Judgments § 394."

Matter of Swasso, 751 P.2d 887, 889-90 (Wyo.1988) (quoting from CLS v. CLJ, 693 P.2d 774, 775-76 (Wyo.1985)). 4 The criteria used to determine res judicata's applicability to a situation are: "(1) the parties were identical; (2) the subject matter was identical; (3) the issues were the same and related to the subject matter; and (4) the capacities of the persons were identical in reference to both the subject matter and the issues between them." Matter of Swasso, 751 P.2d at 890. All four criteria unquestionably are met as to whether the contract payment in the instant case should be treated as a specific bequest which, as determined in first appeal, will not now be reconsidered.

Appellants also challenge the issue of the proper characterization of the accruing purchase contract interest as included in the periodic payments. They contend that the interest is income of the estate, while the Read heirs claimed the interest as part of their specific bequest. Wyoming has adopted the view set out in 6 Bowe-Parker: Page on Wills, § 59.15 (1962) that "[i]n the absence of a provision to the contrary in a will, a specific bequest also carries accretions accrued after the

Page 1356

testator's death." Matter of Deutsch's Estate, 644 P.2d 768, 770 (Wyo.1982). Where, as here, there is no contrary provision in the will, the interest after death as attributable to the contract payments is part of the specific bequest for estate distribution. Although W.S. 2-3-601, et seq. as the principal and income apportionment code may primarily address trust administration, W.S. 2-3-605(b)(i) 5 is applicable since the legacy in this case does include both principal and interest as asset income. See Matter of Deutsch's Estate, 644 P.2d at 771 (this court found royalty payments from copyrights to be a kind of property involving principal and income so that W.S. 2-3-611 and 2-3-605(b)(ii) were relevant). The record...

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16 practice notes
  • Paternity of JRW, Matter of, No. C-90-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 2, 1991
    ...tests would abate the husband's obsession that the child is not his. 24 Am.Jur.2d, supra, § 1100 at 1086. In Matter of Estate of Newell, 765 P.2d 1353 (Wyo.1988), we identified the four criteria used to determine the applicability of res judicata. They are: " '(1) the parties were identical......
  • Osborn v. Kilts, No. 06-9.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 6, 2006
    ...(4) the capacities of the persons were identical in reference to both the subject matter and the issues between them." Newell v. Trumper, 765 P.2d 1353, 1355 (Wyo.1988) (quoting Swasso, 751 P.2d at [¶ 10] The "identical parties" requirement in a res judicata analysis is met when either the ......
  • Estate of Reed, Matter of, No. 88-137
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 31, 1989
    ...Also, the record is examined in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion was sought. See Matter of Estate of Newell, 765 P.2d 1353 (Wyo.1988); Frieden Construction, Inc. v. Lower & Company, 766 P.2d 527 (Wyo.1988); Matter of Estate of Obra, 749 P.2d 272 (Wyo.1988); and ......
  • Hansuld v. Lariat Diesel Corp., Nos. S-09-0206, S-09-0207.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 9, 2010
    ...the subject matter and the issues between them. Osborn v. Kilts, 2006 WY 142, ¶ 9, 145 P.3d 1264, 1267 (Wyo.2006); Newell v. Trumper, 765 P.2d 1353, 1355 (Wyo.1988). While factors one and four are met in the instant case, factors two and three are not. The subject matter presented to the di......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Paternity of JRW, Matter of, No. C-90-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • July 2, 1991
    ...tests would abate the husband's obsession that the child is not his. 24 Am.Jur.2d, supra, § 1100 at 1086. In Matter of Estate of Newell, 765 P.2d 1353 (Wyo.1988), we identified the four criteria used to determine the applicability of res judicata. They are: " '(1) the parties were identical......
  • Osborn v. Kilts, No. 06-9.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • November 6, 2006
    ...(4) the capacities of the persons were identical in reference to both the subject matter and the issues between them." Newell v. Trumper, 765 P.2d 1353, 1355 (Wyo.1988) (quoting Swasso, 751 P.2d at [¶ 10] The "identical parties" requirement in a res judicata analysis is met when either the ......
  • Estate of Reed, Matter of, No. 88-137
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 31, 1989
    ...Also, the record is examined in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion was sought. See Matter of Estate of Newell, 765 P.2d 1353 (Wyo.1988); Frieden Construction, Inc. v. Lower & Company, 766 P.2d 527 (Wyo.1988); Matter of Estate of Obra, 749 P.2d 272 (Wyo.1988); and ......
  • Hansuld v. Lariat Diesel Corp., Nos. S-09-0206, S-09-0207.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • December 9, 2010
    ...the subject matter and the issues between them. Osborn v. Kilts, 2006 WY 142, ¶ 9, 145 P.3d 1264, 1267 (Wyo.2006); Newell v. Trumper, 765 P.2d 1353, 1355 (Wyo.1988). While factors one and four are met in the instant case, factors two and three are not. The subject matter presented to the di......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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