In re Estate of Sheila Foxley Radford, deceased.
Mary Radford, appellant. Provident Trust Company et al., appellees.
Decedents' Estates: Judgments: Appeal and
Error. In the absence of an equity question, an
appellate court, reviewing probate matters, examines for
error appearing on the record made in the county court. When
reviewing a judgment for errors appearing on the record, the
inquiry is whether the decision conforms to the law, is
supported by competent evidence, and is neither arbitrary,
capricious, nor unreasonable.
Decedents' Estates: Appeal and Error.
The probate court's factual findings have the effect of a
verdict and will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory
interpretation presents a question of law, for which an
appellate court has an obligation to reach an independent
conclusion irrespective of the decision made by the court
Statutes. It is not within the province of a
court to read a meaning into a statute that is not warranted
by the language; neither is it within the province of a court
to read anything plain, direct, or unambiguous out of a
.A court must attempt to give effect to all parts of a
statute, and if it can be avoided, no word, clause, or
sentence will be rejected as superfluous or meaningless.
from the County Court for Douglas County: Stephanie R.
Hansen, Judge. Reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Michael J. Decker for appellant.
Neb. 206] Robert M. Schartz, Howard J. Kaslow, and M. Tyler
Johnson, of Abrahams, Kaslow & Cassman, L.L.P., for
Heavican, C.J., Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Funke, Papik
and, Freudenberg, JJ.
Radford appeals the county court's decision on an
application for direction which found that money Sheila
Foxley Radford gave Mary prior to Sheila's death was an
ademption of Mary's interest in Sheila's trust. On
appeal, Mary challenges the application of the ademption
statute, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 30-2350 (Reissue 2016), to
the trust. Alternatively, Mary claims the court erred in
finding it was Sheila's intent to have the money be an
ademption of Mary's interest. Mary additionally
challenges the determination that an ademption could be made
prior to an amendment of the trust and that a document
created prior to the amended trust in which Mary acknowledged
the money was "inheritance" constituted an
ademption. For the reasons stated herein, we reverse, and
remand to the county court for further proceedings.
died testate as a resident of Douglas County, Nebraska, in
October 2014. At the time of her death, Sheila had four
living children, including Mary, William Radford, Christopher
Radford, and Brigid Radford. In 1996, Sheila had executed a
"pour-over" will and a trust agreement for the
distribution of her assets.
2007, Sheila agreed to provide Mary $200, 000 for the
purchase of a home. On May 30, Mary signed a handwritten note
stating: "This letter acknowledges that Sheila ... is
affording me $200, 000 for purchase of a home and is
recognized by me as inheritance." On June 11, a wire
transfer of $200, 000 was processed from Sheila's bank
account to Mary's account. Mary alleges it was not her
understanding that this payment would be counted against her
share of the trust.
Neb. 207] In April 2010, Sheila amended and restated her
trust. As applicable, Sheila amended the residuary
distribution from an equal distribution among her four
children to a one-sixth distribution to each of Mary,
William, and Christopher and a one-half distribution to
Brigid. Sheila additionally updated her will. Neither the
updated will nor the amended trust made any mention of the
$200, 000 transfer from Sheila to Mary.
Sheila's death, William found the May 30, 2007, note in
Sheila's apartment. While the note was not in the box
holding Sheila's trust and will documents, it was found
in a file also containing a receipt of the wire transfer in a
cabinet in which Sheila kept financial papers. These
documents were brought to the attention of Provident Trust
Company, the trustee of Sheila's trust, who filed an
application for direction to determine whether the $200, ...