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Jared Muhlbauer and v. Estate of Glenn E. Olson

July 27, 2011

JARED MUHLBAUER AND LUKE MUHLBAUER,
PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLEES,
v.
ESTATE OF GLENN E. OLSON,
DEFENDANT, AND JAMES W. OLSON AND GARY E. OLSON,
INTERVENORS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
ESTATE OF GLENN E. OLSON,
DEFENDANT.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST JUDICIAL CIRCUIT CLAY COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA HONORABLE STEVEN R. JENSEN Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gilbertson, Chief Justice

CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON APRIL 25, 2011

[¶1.] The personal representative of an estate sold real property that had been specifically devised to several heirs. This Court ruled in a previous appeal that the personal representative lacked the authority to sell the property. We remanded the case to allow the buyers of the real property to intervene to protect their interests. After remand, the buyers filed suit against the estate. The heirs who objected to the sale intervened. The buyers moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The intervening heirs appeal. We affirm.

FACTS

[¶2.] The underlying facts can be found in In re Estate of Olson (Olson I), 2008 S.D. 4, 744 N.W.2d 555, and In re Olson (Olson II), 2008 S.D. 126, 759 N.W.2d 315. The facts are not disputed. Consequently, they are only briefly recited now. Glenn Olson died testate in 2002. Wayne Olson was appointed personal representative of Glenn's estate (Estate). In the will, Glenn specifically devised his real estate to James Olson and six other nieces and nephews. The Estate was informally probated in accordance with the Uniform Probate Code. Without notice to the heirs in violation of SDCL 29A-3-715(b), Wayne sold part of the specifically devised real property at public auction to Jared and Luke Muhlbauer. The purchase agreement did not indicate that court approval of the sale was needed. At the time of the sale, Wayne held letters of administration. Two to three months after closing, Muhlbauers were informed that some of the heirs questioned the sale of the land they had bought at auction.

[¶3.] James objected to the confirmation of the sale to the Muhlbauers. Jared Muhlbauer was asked to testify at the hearing confirming the sale. Despite James' objection, the trial court confirmed the sale. The objecting heirs appealed. Muhlbauers were not informed of the appeal confirming the sale until after our decision was issued. On appeal, this Court determined that Wayne lacked the power to sell the specifically devised land and "reverse[d] the trial court order confirming the sale of specifically devised real estate and remand[ed] for further proceedings[.]" Olson I , 2008 S.D. 4, ¶ 29, 744 N.W.2d at 564. This Court also instructed that on remand the third-party purchaser would have "the opportunity to intervene to protect his or her interests." Id.

[¶4.] "Following remand, Muhlbauers intervened and filed a claim against the Estate seeking to confirm the sale that this Court had previously voided. In the alternative, Muhlbauers asserted a damage claim that they contended would arise if the sale were not confirmed." Olson II , 2008 S.D. 126, ¶ 2, 759 N.W.2d at 317. James and another heir, Gary Olson (collectively Heirs), moved to intervene in the proceedings. Id. ¶ 3, 759 N.W.2d at 317-18. The trial court denied their motion to intervene, but this Court reversed that decision on appeal, and remanded to allow the heirs to intervene. Id. ¶ 12, 759 N.W.2d at 321.

[¶5.] On remand, Muhlbauers filed a motion for summary judgment. Heirs filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The Estate then filed a response to the cross-motions for summary judgment, agreeing that summary judgment was appropriate but declining to advocate for either side.*fn1 The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Muhlbauers, stating that "[b]ecause there is no factual dispute that the Muhlbauers were good faith purchasers for value from the Estate and that they had no knowledge of the Personal Representative's lack of authority to sell, the Muhlbauers are protected by SDCL 29A-3-714 as a matter of law."

[¶6.] On appeal, the issue presented is: Whether, under the facts of this case, Muhlbauers were good faith purchasers for value of specifically devised land protected by SDCL 29A-3-714.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶7.] This Court's standard of review of a grant or denial of a motion for summary judgment is well settled.

In reviewing a grant or a denial of summary judgment under SDCL 15--6--56(c), we determine whether the moving party has demonstrated the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and showed entitlement to judgment on the merits as a matter of law. In considering a trial court's grant or denial of summary judgment, this Court will affirm only if all legal questions have been decided correctly.

Bertelsen v. Allstate Ins. Co. , 2011 S.D. 13, ΒΆ 15, 796 N.W.2d 685, 692-93 ...


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