In re Estate of Funk, No. 100232.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtKarmeier
Citation849 N.E.2d 366,221 Ill.2d 30
PartiesIn re ESTATE OF Floyd W. FUNK (United States of America, Appellant, v. Patsy Printy, Ex'r, et al., Appellees).
Docket NumberNo. 100232.
Decision Date20 April 2006

Page 366

849 N.E.2d 366
221 Ill.2d 30
In re ESTATE OF Floyd W. FUNK (United States of America, Appellant, v. Patsy Printy, Ex'r, et al., Appellees).
No. 100232.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
April 20, 2006.

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Jan Paul Miller, Rodger A. Heaton, Springfield, and David H. Hoff, Urbana, all of the United States Attorney's Office, for appellant.

David R. Cherry, Winchester, appellee pro se.

Justice KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court:


Floyd W. Funk was a truck driver. He died January 7, 1983, leaving a will; a widow; four children, including a minor son; a modest life insurance policy, and interests in farmland, crops and equipment heavily encumbered by loans from the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), an agency of the United States government. Funk's will named his widow, Patsy Printy, as executor. Shortly after Funk's death, Printy filed a petition in the circuit court of Scott County for admission of the will to probate and issuance of letters testamentary. See 755 ILCS 5/6-2 (West 2004). The petition was granted, Printy's oath and bond were approved, and letters of office were issued to her on February 14, 1983.

With the assistance of David R. Cherry, an attorney she retained to assist her, Printy commenced the work of disposing of her husband's estate. That work lasted more than two decades. It did not end until December 2, 2003, when the circuit court entered its final order in the case. That order, which was not entered until after Cherry's election as State's Attorney required him to withdraw from the case, was one that Printy could not have foreseen when she agreed to assume her responsibilities on behalf of the estate. It held her personally liable to the United States government for $90,092.66 in payments she had authorized as executor, plus interest. Included in that sum was $38,830.73 which Printy had paid to Cherry for the legal work he performed on the estate's behalf.

The United States appealed, contending that the circuit court's judgment was inadequate because it did not also include a provision requiring Cherry himself to personally surrender to the government the $38,830.73 in disputed attorney fees. The government conceded that Cherry had earned the fees and that they were reasonable. Its contention was simply that it had a superior claim to the money used to pay the fees and that the money should have gone to it rather than Cherry.

The government's claim was rejected by the appellate court, which affirmed the circuit court's judgment over the dissent of one justice. The appellate court subsequently modified its opinion on denial of rehearing, but continued to affirm. 355

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Ill.App.3d 466, 290 Ill.Dec. 738, 822 N.E.2d 20. The United States then petitioned our court for leave to appeal. 177 Ill.2d R. 315. We granted the government's petition, and the matter is now before us for review. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

In order to properly evaluate the government's arguments, careful review of the facts is necessary. The pages which follow will therefore relate in considerable detail the specifics of what led to the present appeal. As our discussion will reflect, the executor and her attorney were extremely thorough in undertaking their responsibilities. They withheld nothing from the court. They misrepresented nothing to anyone with an interest in the estate.

The exhaustive records maintained by the executor and her attorney have been critical in guiding our understanding of this case. Those records show precisely what monies flowed in and out of the estate, when financial transactions occurred, the identity of the parties involved, and the purposes for which funds were received or expended. Neither the authenticity nor the accuracy of the documentary record is in question.

The issues presented by this appeal turn on the documentary evidence and on questions of law. With respect to such matters, we are not bound by the views or conclusions of either the circuit or appellate court. Our review is de novo. See Eden Retirement Center, Inc. v. Department of Revenue, 213 Ill.2d 273, 284, 290 Ill.Dec. 189, 821 N.E.2d 240 (2004); Rosenthal-Collins Group, L.P. v. Reiff, 321 Ill.App.3d 683, 687, 254 Ill.Dec. 783, 748 N.E.2d 229 (2001).

Floyd Funk came from a farming background but became a truck driver to earn a living. He died suddenly of an apparent heart failure while traveling through Wisconsin in 1983. He had just turned 61 years old. Surviving him were Patsy Printy, who was his second wife, and four children. Three of the children, Erle, Joyce and Jana, were the issue of Funk's first marriage and had attained their majority. The fourth, Michael, was the issue of Funk's marriage to Printy. He was only 12 and still resided with Printy in the family home.

Funk and Printy were married in 1968. After their marriage, Funk executed a will naming Printy executor of his estate. When Funk died, Printy, acting in her capacity as executor, retained attorney David Cherry to assist her in performing the responsibilities imposed on her by the Probate Act of 1975 (755 ILCS 5/1-1 et seq. (West 2004)). One of those responsibilities was to prepare and present to the circuit court verified accounts of her administration of the estate. 755 ILCS 5/24-1 (West 2004). Printy filed the first such account on October 11, 1983. That report, which covered the period from February 15, 1983, to October 7, 1983, disclosed that as of the date of Funk's death, the estate's assets consisted of real estate located in Scott County, 250 bales of straw, 150 bales of hay, and various pieces of equipment associated with the operation of a farm, including tractors, plows, augers, wagons, a combine, and a cultivator. Printy subsequently discovered and reported to the circuit court that at the time of his death, Funk was also entitled to a tenant's share of certain harvested grain and a landlord's share of other harvested grain. In addition, Funk held a life insurance policy from Country Life Insurance Company which paid a benefit to his estate of $28,879.46.

The real estate owned by Funk when he died was the family farm. It consisted of three parcels. The first, referred to as Tract I, consisted of approximately 62 acres and was owned by Funk in fee simple.

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No other party, including Printy, held an interest in it. The second, designated as Tract II, contained 37.5 acres, while the third, known as Tract III, covered 56 acres. Funk owned an undivided three-fourths interest in Tracts II and III.1 With respect to the remaining one-fourth interest, he held only a life estate with the remainder in fee simple to his minor son, Michael.

In May of 1980, less than three years before his death, Funk borrowed $205,000 from the FmHA pursuant to the Emergency Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (7 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq.) That loan, issued under the government's Economic Emergency loan program, was secured by a 40-year mortgage on all three tracts of his farm, excluding Michael's interest. The mortgage bore only his signature as did the corresponding promissory note.

Pursuant to the terms of the promissory note, Funk was to make 41 annual payments to the FmHA. The first, for $10,000, was due January 1, 1981. The second, for $15,000, was due January 1, 1982. Beginning January 1, 1983, annual installments were to increase to $19,507.

According to the documentary evidence filed with the circuit court, Funk made payments on the promissory note which reduced the principal balance due at the time of his death to $185,000. An additional $23,252.06 in accrued and unpaid interest was also due.2 Following Funk's death, interest continued to accrue on the loan at the rate of approximately $50.68 per day.

A month after taking out the $205,000 loan secured by the mortgage on his farm, Funk obtained an additional loan from the FmHA pursuant to the Emergency Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (7 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq.). The amount of the second loan was $31,000. It was subject to an interest rate of 14% and was to be paid in annual installments over a three-year period. To secure payment of the loan, Funk executed a security agreement and financing statement. The security agreement granted the government, acting through the FmHA, a security interest in crops grown on Funk's farm, in crops grown by Funk on land owned by two other individuals, and in tractors and other farm equipment owned by Funk, subject to purchase money interests held by others on some items of that equipment. At the time of Funk's death, he owed the FmHA $3,322.52 in principal and $495.74 in interest on this loan.

In February of 1981, Funk obtained a third loan from the FmHA pursuant to the Emergency Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (7 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq.). The amount of the new loan was $39,290. It had a lower interest rate than the second loan, 13%, and a longer term. It was to be paid in annual installments over a five-year period, with the final payment due on the fifth anniversary of the loan. As with the second loan, Funk executed a security agreement and financing statement. Similar to the previous agreement, the new security agreement granted the government, acting through the FmHA, a security interest in crops grown on Funk's farm, in crops grown by Funk on land owned by other individuals, and in tractors and other farm equipment owned by Funk, subject to

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purchase money interests held by others on some items of that equipment. Funk made payments on this loan, but still owed $1,782.34 in principal and $262.81 in interest when he passed away.

Funk applied for and obtained a fourth and final loan from the FmHA on April 1, 1982, approximately nine months prior to his death. It was an operating loan issued pursuant to the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. § 1921 et seq.). The loan amount, $44,000, was...

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  • Hudson v. City of Chicago, No. 1-05-2822.
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • December 14, 2007
    ...on the parties, not on this court and we may dispense with waiver when the interests of justice so demand. In re Estate of Funk, 221 Ill.2d 30, 97, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006); see also Mellon v. Coffelt, 313 Ill.App.3d 619, 626, 246 Ill.Dec. 422, 730 N.E.2d 102 (2000) (holding ......
  • Bauman v. Patterson, NOS. 4–17–0169
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • April 23, 2018
    ...and the other party's denied." Clark , 2011 IL 108656, ¶ 119, 353 Ill.Dec. 254, 955 N.E.2d 1065 (citing In re Estate of Funk , 221 Ill. 2d 30, 85, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006) ). That exception exists because the order on the cross-motions disposes of all the issues in the c......
  • Clark v. the Children's Mem'l Hosp., No. 108656.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • September 26, 2011
    ...denied. Because the order disposes of all issues in the case, review of the denial of summary judgment may be had. In re Estate of Funk, 221 Ill.2d 30, 85, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006). Our appellate court has similarly concluded that the propriety of the denial may be considered......
  • Moore v. Chi. Park Dist., No. 112788.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 18, 2012
    ...case pursuant to our supervisory authority over the Illinois court system. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 16; In re Estate of Funk, 221 Ill.2d 30, 97–98, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006); People v. Lyles, 217 Ill.2d 210, 216, 298 Ill.Dec. 752, 840 N.E.2d 1187 (2005) (our supervisor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
79 cases
  • Hudson v. City of Chicago, No. 1-05-2822.
    • United States
    • Illinois Appellate Court
    • December 14, 2007
    ...on the parties, not on this court and we may dispense with waiver when the interests of justice so demand. In re Estate of Funk, 221 Ill.2d 30, 97, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006); see also Mellon v. Coffelt, 313 Ill.App.3d 619, 626, 246 Ill.Dec. 422, 730 N.E.2d 102 (2000) (holding ......
  • Bauman v. Patterson, NOS. 4–17–0169
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • April 23, 2018
    ...is granted and the other party's denied." Clark , 2011 IL 108656, ¶ 119, 353 Ill.Dec. 254, 955 N.E.2d 1065 (citing In re Estate of Funk , 221 Ill. 2d 30, 85, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006) ). That exception exists because the order on the cross-motions disposes of all the issues in......
  • Clark v. the Children's Mem'l Hosp., No. 108656.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • September 26, 2011
    ...denied. Because the order disposes of all issues in the case, review of the denial of summary judgment may be had. In re Estate of Funk, 221 Ill.2d 30, 85, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006). Our appellate court has similarly concluded that the propriety of the denial may be considered......
  • Moore v. Chi. Park Dist., No. 112788.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • October 18, 2012
    ...case pursuant to our supervisory authority over the Illinois court system. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 16; In re Estate of Funk, 221 Ill.2d 30, 97–98, 302 Ill.Dec. 574, 849 N.E.2d 366 (2006); People v. Lyles, 217 Ill.2d 210, 216, 298 Ill.Dec. 752, 840 N.E.2d 1187 (2005) (our supervisor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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