July 2014

Posted July 31, 2014

Dixon v. Joyner C.A. No. 7452-ML (July 14, 2014)

The Master in Chancery recently held that even late filings of accountings or notifications thereof do not constitute statutory failures by the administrator of an estate under certain circumstances. In Dixon v. Joyner the accounting was filed two months late but the petitioner could not demonstrate either that it was incomplete or that the petitioner suffered an harm as a result. Similarly, because he could not demonstrate either that he had received late notice of the accounting or that he had suffered any harm due to late notification, summary judgment in favor of the executor was appropriate. The Court also affirmed that the executor properly did not make distributions to the decedent’s heirs within the one year period provided by statute, because the estate had not yet been settled at that time. The assets of the estate were properly used to satisfy the debts of the estate. Finally, the Court held that a property involved in active foreclosure proceedings cannot be sold to satisfy the debts of the estate.

Posted July 7, 2014

IMO: The Estate of Paulina duPont Dean C.A. No. 7430 - ML (June 30, 2014)

In this case, Master LeGrow concluded that a power of attorney becomes effective upon the moment of its execution unless there is explicit language in the power stating otherwise. In the context of a party seeking a forensic accounting of his incompetent mother’s financial activities, the Master rejected the argument that the power of attorney only became effective when the agent began acting upon it. Instead, she ordered an accounting for the entire period going to back to when the power was signed.

The Master also held that one cannot waive an entitlement to an unrevoked gift. Here, two brothers had an understanding with their mother that she would pay for their children’s educational expenses. After accepting these payments for almost fifteen years, one brother (“Dean”) ceased seeking the reimbursements. Later, after Dean found out that his brother continued to receive those reimbursements, Dean sought reimbursement for all the educational expenses he himself had previously paid for his children. Master LeGrow stated that in order for Dean to have waived his entitlement to reimbursement, he must have had a right to those reimbursements, as the doctrine of waiver requires that there be a “contractual or statutory right that [the party] consciously chose not to enforce.” The Master further stated that, rather than waiving a right, the brother had “elected for a period of time not to accept his mother’s gift.” The Master went on to conclude, that “[b]ecause there is no evidence that [their mother] ever rescinded her offer, and no evidence that she conditioned her gift on a ‘timely’ submission of reimbursement requests, Dean is entitled to the reimbursement he now seeks.”