JAN K. HARRIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
HUGH V. FAULKNER, As Executor of the ESTATE OF BARBARA L. HUMPHREY, Defendant-Appellee.
Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, James Q. Blomgren, Judge.
An heir appeals from the order approving the sale of real property and from the order denying her motion to amend and enlarge.
Jan Harris, Mooresville, North Carolina, pro se.
David Dixon of Heslinga, Dixon, Moore & Hite, Oskaloosa, for appellee.
Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.
Jan Harris, a daughter of decedent Barbara Humphrey, appeals from the district court orders in probate approving the executor's sale of real property and denying her motion to amend and enlarge. We affirm.
Barbara Humphrey died in October 2010. The petition for probate of her will and appointment of executor identified a will dated November 2001. The will nominated Hugh Faulkner, a local attorney, as executor. The estate inventory showed a gross estate of about $75, 000, including real property with an estimated value of $65, 000. A later appraisal valued the property at $50, 000. The will authorized the executor "to sell and convert into cash any property, including real estate, . . . upon such terms and conditions as are deemed advisable by my Executor . . . without notice, hearing, or other court approval of any kind." After some specific bequests, the will bequeathed one-sixth of the remainder to each of Humphrey's three children and three named grandchildren per stirpes.
At a meeting in May 2011 to seek a family settlement agreement, Harris offered $25, 000 for the real property. The executor refused the offer. Later, one grandson offered $40, 000. The executor counter-offered $57, 000. The grandson responded he was not interested, even at $50, 000. The executor listed the property with a local realtor. The executor received an offer of $55, 000. The executor notified Harris's attorney of the offer and stated he would accept the offer and proceed with the sale unless he heard from the grandson within a week. After a week passed, the executor accepted the $55, 000 offer.
A conformed copy of a will dated December 2002 was located, but the original never has been found. Faulkner had it admitted to probate in November 2011 as a lost will. The 2002 will also named Faulkner as executor and gave the executor the same authority to sell estate property without court approval. The only difference between the wills was the elimination of one named grandchild's share, combining it with his mother's share.
The executor, despite the grant of authority to sell the real estate, filed an application for approval of the sale of the real estate in January 2012. The matter came on for hearing over two days in May. The executor testified he filed the request for authority to sell to avoid possible title objections. Harris appeared pro se. During the hearings she brought to the court's attention years of family history, her belief her father wanted the family home he built to stay in the family, the $25, 000 and $40, 000 "family" offers for the property, and her concerns about the initial probate of a 2001 "revoked" will when the executor knew of the existence of the 2002 will. Harris also presented evidence her parents executed a joint will in 1972. The court more than once noted the only issue before the court was the executor's request for approval to sell the real estate.
In its ruling approving the executor's sale of the real estate, the court acknowledged there was a 2001 and a 2002 will, but the language in both giving the executor authority to sell the real estate without court approval was identical. The court concluded the executor obtained the best price possible and approved the sale.
Harris filed a motion to amend or enlarge, asserting both the 2001 and 2002 wills were invalid and the court erred in not finding the 1972 will controlling. She requested the court amend its findings and conclusions and order the real estate sold to her. In its August 2012 ruling on the motion, the court reiterated the only issue before the court in the May hearing was approval of the sale of the real estate. The court denied the motion. Harris appeals.
This matter was tried as a law action. Our review is for correction of errors at law. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; ...