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In re Estate of Bonde

March 29, 2005

IN RE THE ESTATE OF: NORMA JEAN BONDE, DECEDENT


Anoka County District Court File No. P8-02-10005.

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge; Minge, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. The debtor-creditor law definition of what constitutes a homestead applies to the administration of decedent's estates.

2. Residential property owned but not occupied by decedent did not qualify as her homestead in her estate.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Minge, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

Appellant challenges the district court's order relying on the property tax definition of homestead to classify decedent's Coon Rapids property as a homestead. We reverse.

FACTS

Decedent Norma Bonde died intestate on August 3, 2002. Her husband, Allan Bonde, and decedent's two children from her first marriage survived her. Allan Bonde is the appellant in this case; the respondent is decedent's daughter, Lori Bogren. Decedent and her first husband owned and resided in a home in Coon Rapids. At the time of her marriage to appellant in 1978, decedent was the fee owner of the Coon Rapids property and was living there with her two children. After their marriage, decedent moved into appellant's residence in East Bethel, Minnesota. She moved some of her furniture to the East Bethel property and left some at the Coon Rapids property. Until 1981, no one occupied the property in Coon Rapids. In 1981, decedent's son moved into the Coon Rapids residence and resided there until the mid-1980s. After he left, respondent moved into the Coon Rapids property and has continuously resided there.

After moving into the East Bethel residence, decedent visited the Coon Rapids house to see her children and help with general maintenance, including shoveling the snow and mowing the lawn. Decedent paid the utility bills and property taxes and collected rent from her children. Because decedent's daughter lived there, Anoka County classified the Coon Rapids property as "homestead" for property tax purposes pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 273.124, subd. 1(c) (2004).

Following decedent's death, appellant filed a petition for formal adjudication of intestacy, the determination of heirs, and appointment of personal representative. In this petition, appellant classified the Coon Rapids property as "other real estate" as opposed to a homestead. The district court appointed appellant personal representative and he prepared an inventory of decedent's assets, which included $200,000 for the Coon Rapids property, approximately $50,000 in stocks, and approximately $12,000 for personal property, totaling approximately $262,000. Based on this inventory and pursuant to the law of intestate succession, appellant would receive both the first $150,000 of assets and one-half of the remaining estate, a total of approximately $206,000. Minn. Stat. § 524.2-102(2) (2004) (the intestate share of a decedent's surviving spouse is the "first $150,000, plus one-half of any balance of the intestate estate . . . if one or more of the decedent's surviving descendents are not descendents of the surviving spouse"). Respondent objected, claiming that pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 273.124, subd. 1(c), the Coon Rapids property should be classified as a homestead and that it should descend pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 524.2-402(a)(2) (2004). Under this statute appellant, as surviving spouse, would receive a life estate in the homestead (the Coon Rapids property) and decedent's children would receive the remaining interest. See id.

Appellant disallowed respondent's claim to reclassify the Coon Rapids property as a homestead. Respondent petitioned the district court requesting that it set aside the unsupervised administration of decedent's estate and amend the inventory to classify the Coon Rapids property as a ...


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