In the Matter of the Edward M. Anderson Trust
Hennepin County District Court File Nos. 27-TR-CV-11-66
Galyna Anderson, St. Paul, Minnesota (pro se appellant)
Thaddeus S. Figus, Corporate Legal Advisors, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
In this appeal from a probate order denying appellant's petition to reform the trust and terminating appellant's right to occupy the homestead property, appellant argues that the district court erred by (1) rejecting her claim that the transfer of homestead property to the trust was procured by fraud or misrepresentation, invalidating the transfer; (2) denying as untimely her claim for an elective share of the homestead under Minn. Stat. § 524.2-402 (2008), because the district court order conveying decedent's non-trust property de facto probated the will, making her claim timely under Minn. Stat. § 524.2-211(f) (2008); and (3) terminating her right to occupy the homestead property because she committed waste. Because appellant's misrepresentation claim lacks merit, the estate was not de facto probated, and appellant's waste terminated her right to occupy the property under the terms of the trust agreement, we affirm.
Decedent Edward Anderson created the Edward M. Anderson Revocable Trust on September 6, 1995. Following his first wife's death in 1998, Edward married appellant Galyna Anderson in 2004. They were married until Edward passed away on March 19, 2009, and they resided at the same homestead throughout their marriage.
In November 2008, Edward executed the third and superseding amendment to the trust agreement establishing a qualified marital trust at his death that provided appellant the net income from the trust as well as a life estate in the homestead. The marital trust was to terminate in the event appellant remarried, died, ceased living in the residence for four consecutive months, or committed waste upon the property. In the event the marital trust was terminated, the property it held was to transfer to Edward's son, Merritt Anderson.
The same day that the third amendment was executed, both Edward and appellant executed a deed transferring the homestead to the trust. Appellant alleges she only executed the deed because Edward told her that she would receive a life estate in the homestead and that he showed her a copy of the third amended trust to assure her of that fact. Two months later, Edward executed a fourth and superseding amendment to the trust terminating the qualified marital trust four years after his death, rather than at appellant's death, as the third amendment had done. The list of events terminating the marital trust was otherwise unchanged.
In January 2009, Edward executed a written statement ordering disposition of particular personal property, including furnishings, a boat, a snowmobile, tools, fishing gear, guns, and jewelry, to various family members. This corresponded to the provision in his will stating that his personal property should be transferred according to a separate written statement. The written statement did not state the value of the items listed.
After Edward passed away, the qualified marital trust did not produce sufficient income to pay the real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, or maintenance expenses for the homestead property, and appellant made no other arrangements for payment of these expenses. As a result, between March 19, 2009, and August 31, 2011, Merritt Anderson, acting as trustee of the marital trust, used $30, 118 of trust principal to pay these expenses. An additional $42, 292 of marital trust principal was distributed to pay other expenses of appellant.
In May 2011, appellant initiated the present action seeking, among other relief, a life estate in the homestead either through reformation of the trust or through exercise of her statutory right to an elective share of the homestead under Minn. Stat. § 524.2-402(a)(2). In October 2011, Merritt Anderson, in his capacity as beneficiary of the Edward M. Anderson Revocable Trust, filed a motion to terminate the qualified marital trust, ...