Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Burnett v. Maddocks

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 15, 2016

ROGER JEROME BURNETT, APPELLEE,
v.
JEFFREY CLYDE MADDOCKS, APPELLANT, and OPAL MADDOCKS ET AL., APPELLEES

          Appeal from the District Court for Pawnee County: DANIEL E. BRYAN, JR., Judge.

         Eugene L. Hillman, of Hillman, Forman, Childers & McCormack, for appellant.

         Heather Voegele-Andersen and Brenda K. Smith, of Dvorak & Donovan Law Group, L.L.C., for appellee Roger Jerome Burnett.

         HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, and KELCH, JJ. STACY, J., participating on briefs.

          OPINION

         Connolly, J.

         SUMMARY

         Roger Jerome Burnett seeks to quiet title to a quarter section of farmland in Pawnee County, Nebraska (Property). He argues that he owns the Property because he is the " eldest son" of Merrill Maddocks under the will of Merrill's great-uncle. In 2006, a Colorado court entered a decree for adult adoption which made Burnett, then 58 years old, Merrill's heir under the intestacy laws. The trial court quieted title to the Property in Burnett.

         Jeffrey Clyde Maddocks, the person who takes the Property if Burnett is not Merrill's " eldest son," appeals. We conclude that Burnett is not Merrill's " son" under the will because he lacked a parent-child relationship with Merrill. We reverse, and remand with directions to quiet title to the Property in Jeffrey.

         BACKGROUND

         Charles W. Maddocks died in 1938. His will directed the executor to reduce certain assets to cash and purchase a farm selected by Charles' nephew, A. Walter Maddocks (Walter). Item 7(b) of the will provided:

I give and bequeath to my said nephew, A. WALTER MADDOCKS, a life estate for the term of his natural life in and to the . . . farm so purchased, and at his death I give and bequeath to MERRILL MADDOCKS, a son of said A. Walter Maddocks, a life estate for the term of the natural life of said Merrill Maddocks, in and to said . . . farm, with remainder over at his death to his eldest son, in fee simple; or, if said Merrill Maddocks shall leave no son surviving, then with remainder over in fee simple to the eldest grand-son in the male line of said A. Walter Maddocks, then living; or, if there is then living no grand-son, in the male line of descent, of said A. Walter Maddocks, then with remainder over to the surviving heirs at law of said A. Walter Maddocks . . . .

         The county court for Pawnee County admitted Charles' will for probate.

         A few years later, the executor of Charles' estate bought the Property. The deed quoted part of item 7(b) of Charles' will and stated that Walter had selected the Property. The deed further stated that the parties intended that " title to the premises herein and hereby conveyed shall vest in the grantees strictly in the manner provided by said last will and testament."

         Walter died in 1977. His grandson, Jeffrey, survived him. Burnett stipulated that, at Walter's death, Jeffrey was " the eldest grand-son in the male line of said A. Walter Maddocks, then living."

         In 1988, Burnett's mother married Merrill. In 2006, a Colorado court entered a decree for adult adoption under which Merrill adopted Burnett as his adult " heir at law." As a legal term of art, " heir" means one who receives an intestate decedent's property.[1] And, as discussed below, the only effect of the decree was to make Burnett the heir of Merrill for intestate succession.

         In 2014, Merrill died. He did not leave any surviving children.

         After Merrill died, Burnett filed a complaint to quiet title to the Property in him. Burnett alleged that the Property was his because he was Merrill's " eldest son" under Charles' will.

         Jeffrey was the only defendant who answered. He alleged the Property passed to him under Charles' will because he was the eldest grandson in Walter's male line. Jeffrey argued that Burnett was not Merrill's " eldest son" under the will because " it was not legally possible to adopt an adult" in Nebraska when Charles died. Jeffrey alleged a counterclaim against Burnett and a cross-claim against the other defendants seeking to quiet title to the Property in him.

         In its decree, the court quieted title to the Property in Burnett and dismissed Jeffrey's counterclaim and cross-claim. It stated that Burnett was Merrill's " eldest son" because the Colorado decree was entitled to full faith and credit in Nebraska.

         Jeffrey appeals. We note that neither he nor Burnett informed the trial court of what effect the decree for adult adoption had under Colorado law. We asked the parties to submit supplemental briefs on that issue.

         ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         Jeffrey assigns, restated, that the court erred by (1) quieting title in Burnett and (2) not quieting title in Jeffrey.

         STANDARD ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.