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Laymon v. Minnesota Premier Properties, LLC

Supreme Court of Minnesota

June 20, 2018

Mary Laymon as the personal representative of the Estate of Howard Arnold Laymon, Appellant,
v.
Minnesota Premier Properties, LLC, et al., Respondents.

          Office of Appellate Courts Court of Appeals

          Kelly Griffitts, Griffitts Law Offices, PLLC, Eagan, Minnesota, for appellant.

          John G. Westrick, Westrick & McDowall-Nix, PLLP, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for respondents.

         SYLLABUS

         A residuary devisee has a transferable ownership interest in property at the death of the testator because the phrase "persons to whom it is devised" in Minnesota Statutes section 524.3-101 (2016) includes residuary devisees.

         Affirmed.

          OPINION

          CHUTICH, Justice.

         This case requires us to decide whether, under Minnesota Statutes section 524.3-101 (2016), real property devolves to a residuary devisee immediately upon the testator's death.

         Appellant Mary Laymon, in her capacity as personal representative to her father's estate, sued respondents Minnesota Premier Properties (Premier) and six others to quiet title to residential property owned by her father, Howard Laymon, at his death.[1] Wells Fargo bought the foreclosed property at a sheriff's sale after Howard's death, and Mary's brother, John Laymon, conveyed his interest in the property by quitclaim deed to Premier a few days later. Because Howard had devised one third of the residue of his estate (which included the foreclosed property) to John, John's ability to transfer a valid ownership interest in the property by quitclaim deed depends on whether section 524.3-101 provides for real property to devolve to a residuary devisee upon the death of the testator.

         The district court concluded that John did not transfer a valid ownership interest in his father's property and granted summary judgment to Mary. The court of appeals reversed. It interpreted the statute to allow real property to devolve immediately upon a testator's death to a residual devisee and therefore concluded that John conveyed a valid interest in the property. Laymon v. Minn. Premier Props., LLC, 903 N.W.2d 6, 17 (Minn.App. 2017). Mary seeks review of this interpretation of section 524.3-101. We affirm the decision of the court of appeals, including its remand to the district court for further proceedings.

         FACTS

         In 2005, Howard bought a house, which he financed with a mortgage. He died testate almost 10 years later, in January 2015. His three adult children, Mary Laymon, John Laymon, and Janet Wolff, survived him. In his will, he named Mary as personal representative of his estate. He also devised all of his "tangible personal property" and the residue of his estate, in equal shares, to his three children.

         After Howard died, the mortgage on his property went into default and, in May 2015, the bank began foreclosure proceedings. On June 29, 2015, Wells Fargo bought the property at a sheriff's sale. Shortly after the sale, the court confirmed the appointment of Mary as personal representative and issued her letters testamentary, which enabled her to administer the estate.

         Within 4 days of the sheriff's sale, John and his wife conveyed whatever interest they had in the property to Minnesota Premier Properties, LLC (Premier) by quitclaim deed, in exchange for $10, 000.[2] A series of transactions based on the conveyance followed, [3] including Premier quitclaiming its interest in the property to Blue Gold Ventures, LLC (Blue Gold). If (and only if) John had an interest in the property at the ...


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