This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed July 19 2005
Hennepin County District Court
File No. P1-97-542
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.
appellant Pamela Francis challenges the district court’s rejection of her
objections to several petitions filed by respondents Barbara A.E. Francis and Susan
Francis Goldstein, and Marshall & Isley Trust Company, N.A., who are the
former and current personal representatives of her deceased husband’s estate
and the trustee of trusts set up for the benefit of decedent’s children. The petitions sought: (1) approval of the personal representatives’
final accounts; (2) authorization to sell certain partnership units and
corporate stock owned by the trusts; (3) payment of all remaining claims
against the estate, including the claims of the decedent’s mother, Florence
Francis, for more than $197,000; and (4) distribution of the remaining assets
in accordance with a December 13, 2000 order approving a proposal submitted by
the involved parties. Appellant also
challenges the district court’s denial of her request to remove the guardian ad
Because the district court did not clearly err in its findings or otherwise abuse its discretion in its decisions, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
review, this court “evaluate[s] the district court’s findings concerning wills
and trusts under a clearly erroneous standard and review[s] conclusions of law
de novo.” In re Trust Created under Agreement, 660 N.W.2d 421, 425-26 (
Appellant first challenges the district court’s denial of
her request to remove
now insists that
review, this court will not overturn a district court’s decision regarding the
removal of a guardian ad litem absent an abuse of discretion. See In
re Welfare of M.J.L., 582 N.W.2d 585, 589 (
district court here concluded that there “are no reasonable grounds for the
The court has reviewed
the files in this matter and does not agree with the assessment
From this, we conclude that the district court found that
Appellant argues that her children should not be forced to sell their shares in the family partnership. She challenges the value assigned to the shares, as based on a valuation reached by a “personal friend of the family.” She further alleges that the partnership “is not unstable and the three younger children should in fact have been able to keep their shares.”
method used by trustees to determine the value of assets must be reasonable,
and if trustees act in good faith and from proper motives, we will not
interfere with their decisions. See United States v. O’Shaughnessy, 517
N.W.2d 574, 577 (
Even if appellant has standing, the GAL’s decision to sell the partnership units and corporate shares was entirely reasonable and in the children’s best interests. The assets at issue are units and stock of a closely held family business, which are not liquid and cannot be sold on the public market. As such, the GAL considered the offer to purchase as the best available opportunity to obtain cash in order to replenish the corpus of the trust. As the district court found, the proposed sale is “in the best interests of the [trust] beneficiaries” because the “offer to purchase these interests right now will generate income for the children,” will “liquidate an illiquid asset, for there is no market for these assets outside of the Francis family” and “will allow the children to move out of a speculative asset and into a safe one.”
challenges the district court’s decision to allow decedent’s mother, Florence
Francis, to recover her claim against the estate. She criticizes the failure by the original
In approving the payment of Florence Francis’ claims, the district court determined: (1) the debt owed to Florence Francis was properly evidenced by valid promissory notes; (2) because the claims were not disallowed within the time period set out in Minn. Stat. § 524.3.806 (2002), they were deemed allowed under that statute; and (3) the dispute over Florence Francis’ claims was previously resolved by the parties’ settlement agreement that was approved by the district court’s December 13, 2000 order.
are supported by the law and evidence.
The probate code, which establishes a procedure for dealing with
creditors’ claims against an estate, places an affirmative duty on the personal
representative to notify a claimant of disallowance of a claim submitted
against an estate.
claim has been allowed, it may be disallowed only if the personal
representative, upon notice to the claimant, files a petition claiming that the
claim should be disallowed “for cause shown.”
The district court further determined that appellant is precluded from challenging the validity of these claims because the issue was resolved by the parties’ settlement, which was approved by order dated December 13, 2000. Appellant was represented by counsel during the negotiation and finalization of that settlement. Thus, we cannot conclude that the district court erred or otherwise abused its discretion in allowing this claim.
Appellant challenges the final accounting and claims that her objections were not entirely heard. The district court allowed the final accounting, noting: (1) the personal representatives filed and presented their accountings and set forth all transactions of the estate; (2) both guardians ad litem for the two sets of children consented to the final accountings; and (3) many of appellant’s objections are barred by the parties’ proposed distribution, which was approved by the district court’s December 13, 2000 order.
challenges here on appeal to the final accounting are largely
unintelligible. While she appears to
challenge the reasonableness of the attorney fees, the parties essentially
agreed to the calculation of fees under the terms of the December 13, 2000
order. Because appellant’s briefing
lacks specific arguments and legal analyses, we deem waived any other issues
she has raised and decline to reach them.
See State v. Modern Recycling,
Inc., 558 N.W.2d 770, 772 (Minn. App. 1997) (holding that assignment of
error in appellate brief, which is based on “mere assertion” and unsupported by
argument or authority, is waived unless prejudice is obvious on mere
inspection); State, Dep’t of Labor &
Industry v. Wintz Parcel Drivers, Inc., 558 N.W.2d 480, 481 (Minn. 1997)
(holding that in absence of adequate briefing, reviewing court may decline to
reach issue or argument unsupported by legal analysis or citation); Ganguli v. Univ. of
We therefore affirm the district court’s orders.
 Appellant and decedent were married in 1992,
and he died in 1997. After decedent’s
1997 will was entered into probate, appellant petitioned for homestead rights
and maintenance payments. The estate was
ordered to make payments to her after the couple’s antenuptial agreement was
declared void. Estate of Francis, 1998 WL 887472, at **1 (
 Respondent McDowell, the GAL appointed to represent appellant’s three children, has indicated by letter to this court that he would not file a brief in this matter and that he “fully concurs” with the brief submitted by the personal representatives and trustee. Respondent Margaret Kyle, who was decedent’s first wife and is the mother of his other two children and their appointed GAL, has also indicated by letter to this court that she concurs with the brief submitted by the personal representatives and trustee.