Jarman v. Eisenhauer
|United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
|744 S.W.2d 780
|Ruth JARMAN, Respondent, v. Carl EISENHAUER, Personal Representative of the Estate of Agnes Hochberger, Appellant.
|17 February 1988
Karl L. Madden, Jr., Moberly, for appellant.
B. Daniel Simon, Columbia, for respondent.
The only issue for decision in this case is whether the circuit court had jurisdiction of a declaratory judgment suit to determine ownership of certificates of deposit registered in the names of a deceased person and plaintiff as joint tenants with right of survivorship. The court of appeals ruled the probate division of the circuit court had exclusive jurisdiction under discovery of assets proceeding, dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction, and remanded the case to the circuit court with directions to transfer it to the probate division.
The circuit court had jurisdiction to entertain plaintiff's action for a declaratory judgment and the case is retransferred to the court of appeals for consideration of the remaining issues.
During the lifetime of Agnes Hochberger certain certificates of deposit, money market certificates and securities were issued in her name and that of plaintiff Jarman as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Following Hochberger's death, plaintiff Jarman brought this suit for declaratory judgment in the circuit court against the personal representative of Hochberger and the various financial institutions that had issued the joint instruments. Plaintiff sought a determination that she was the sole owner by reason of survivorship. Among other allegations, she alleged a prior declaratory suit brought by a guardian for Hochberger was res adjudicata as to all issues of joint ownership and that the estate was estopped from asserting any right, title or interest to the certificates and securities. The personal representative denied plaintiff's claim. The trial court concluded Jarman, as surviving joint tenant, was the owner of the certificates of deposit, money market certificates, and securities.
Section 473.340, RSMo 1986, authorizes discovery proceedings. It provides in part
Any executor, administrator, creditor, beneficiary or other person who claims an interest in property which is claimed to be an asset of an estate or which is claimed should be an asset of an estate may file a verified petition in the probate division of the circuit court in which said estate is pending seeking determination of the title, right of possession thereto, or both. (emphasis added).
The former version of this statute limited the parties entitled to initiate discovery of assets proceedings, limited the type of property allegedly withheld, and further limited the proceeding to an effort to bring claimed assets into the estate. The current statute is much broader, but, as noted, is permissive, not mandatory.
Chapter 527, RSMo 1986, authorizes circuit courts to entertain jurisdiction of...
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