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In re Estate of Harding

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 18, 2013

In re the Estate of: Charles Arthur Harding, Decedent.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Blue Earth County District Court File No. 07-PR-11-4372

DeAnne L. Dulas, Neut L. Strandemo, Eagan, Minnesota (for appellant Mardell Harding)

William A. Moeller, Christopher M. Roe, Anna G. Fisher, Blethen, Gage & Krause, PLLP, Mankato, Minnesota (for respondent Charles Harding, Jr.)

Considered and decided by Hooten, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.

HOOTEN, Judge

Appellant challenges the district court's summary-judgment decision enforcing her antenuptial agreement, in which she conditionally waived her right to a share of her late husband's estate. Appellant argues that her conditional waiver was voided by both her and decedent's breach of the agreement. Because appellant failed to offer evidence sufficient to establish her breach-of-contract claim, we affirm.

FACTS

Appellant Mardell Iva Harding is the surviving spouse of decedent Charles Arthur Harding. Respondent Charles Allen Harding is decedent's adult son from an earlier marriage. Appellant and decedent entered into an Antenuptial Agreement and married in May 1991. Article III of the Agreement provided:

Each party waives, discharges, and releases any and all claims and rights that he or she may acquire by reason of the marriage to share in the estate of the other party upon the latter's death by way of . . . distribution in intestacy; and, . . . to act as executor or administrator of the other party's estate.

Appellant and decedent also agreed to undertake certain responsibilities during the marriage under article IV. If "any of the parties . . . fail to carry out the provisions of this agreement, " article VIII renders article III "null and void."

Decedent died on April 18, 2011. Appellant filed a petition for formal adjudication of intestacy, determination of heirs, and appointment of a personal representative. Respondent objected on the grounds that decedent's last will and testament devised nothing to appellant. Appellant then filed a petition for family maintenance and an elective share. Respondent objected on the grounds that appellant waived her right to an elective share under the agreement.

Both parties moved for summary judgment. Appellant argued that her conditional waiver was voided by both her and decedent's breach of the agreement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of respondent, reasoning that the evidence was insufficient to establish appellant's breach-of-contract claim. Subsequently, appellant moved for amended findings, which the district court denied. This appeal follows.

DECISION


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