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Ferguson v. Estate of Ferguson

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 20, 2015

Charles R. Ferguson, Appellant,
v.
The Estate of Lera V. Ferguson, Appellee

Interlocutory Appeal from the Howard Circuit Court. The Honorable J. David Grund, Special Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 34C01-1310-ES-52.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Briane M. House, R. Daniel Faust, House Reynolds & Faust, LLP, Carmel, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Scott L. Starr, Jacob M. O'Brien, Starr Austen & Miller, LLP, Logansport, Indiana.

OPINION

Page 882

Bradford, Judge.

Case Summary

[¶1] Lera V. Ferguson passed away intestate in 2013 and was survived by her two children and sole heirs, Appellant Charles Ferguson and Nancy Mosson. Mosson was appointed personal representative of Lera's estate (" the Estate" ). Charles eventually filed a claim for over one million dollars against the Estate for services provided to Lera over her lifetime, a claim that Mosson disallowed.

[¶2] Meanwhile, Mosson had petitioned the trial court for authority to sell real estate, namely a parcel that was the family farm (" the Farm" ). Charles objected to Mosson's petition and requested the trial court to set a bond sufficient to stay the sale. After a hearing, the trial court ordered Charles to deliver a surety bond of $1,133,833.71, which represented the amount of his claim plus some administrative costs, within thirty days in order to stay the sale of the Farm. Charles now

Page 883

appeals, contending that the trial court erred in setting his bond. The Estate argues that Charles's interlocutory appeal should be dismissed because the trial court's order did not give him an interlocutory appeal of right and he did not follow the procedures for discretionary interlocutory appeals. Because we conclude that Charles's interlocutory appeal was properly taken and that the trial court abused its discretion in setting the amount of Charles's bond, we reverse and remand with instructions.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] Lera died intestate on June 7, 2013, survived by her two children and sole heirs, Mosson and Charles. On October 2, 2013, the trial court appointed Mosson personal representative of the Estate, whose sole asset of significance is the Farm. On December 23, 2013, Charles filed his claim against the Estate, alleging that Lera had entered into a lifetime contract for personal services with Charles and that the Estate owed him $1,073,833.71.

[¶4] On March 6, 2014, Mosson petitioned for authority to sell the Farm, which motion was granted. On March 12, 2014, Charles moved to vacate the trial court's order granting Mosson authority to sell the Farm, which motion the trial court granted. On April 3, 2014, Mosson disallowed Charles's claim against the Estate.

[¶5] On April 28, 2014, Mosson filed a memorandum in support of her petition for authority to sell the Farm, reasserting her request to sell the Farm. On August 1, 2014, Charles responded to Mosson's renewed request to sell the Farm and requested that the trial court set a bond sufficient to pay the Estate's administrative expenses and stay the sale of the Farm pursuant to Indiana Code section 29-1-15-4. Following a hearing, the trial ...


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