Law School Case Brief
Coy v. Ezarski (In re Estate of Anton) - 731 N.W.2d 19 (Iowa 2007)
Under the "modified intention theory," the identity rule of ademption will not be applied to cases where specifically devised property is removed from an estate through an act that is involuntary as to the testator. This includes cases where the property is sold by a guardian, or conservator, or is destroyed contemporaneously with the death of the testator.
In 1972, the testator, Hestor Mary Lewis Anton (Mary), married Herbert Anton, the father of Gretchen Coy. It was the second marriage for both Herbert and Mary. During this marriage, Gretchen, Mary's stepdaughter, deeded a piece of real property to her stepmother and father. Herbert and Mary built a duplex on the property. After the death of Herbert in 1976, Mary became the sole owner of the duplex property. In 1981, Mary executed a will. In the will, she bequeathed half of her interest in the duplex to Gretchen, her stepdaughter. The remaining half interest was bequeathed to her biological son, Robert Lewis. Mary bequeathed the remainder of her estate to Robert and her daughter, Nancy Ezarski. Furthermore, Mary later executed a durable power of attorney authorizing her daughter, Nancy, to manage her financial affairs. Nancy sold the duplex to pay for the Mary's nursing home expenses. The net proceeds of the sale were $133,263. At the time of Mary's death, the remaining balance was $104,317. The stepdaughter, Gretchen Coy, filed a claim with the estate, asserting that she was entitled to $72,625 because of the bequest. Nancy, Mary's daughter, acting as executor of the estate, denied the claim. The trial court denied the claim. The court of appeals upheld the decision, holding that the property was adeemed by its sale.
Did the sale of the property result in ademption of the bequest?
On review, the court held that the sale of the duplex did not result in ademption of the bequest. Mary did not know that the duplex was going to be sold; she had only a general knowledge that assets might need to be sold for her support at some time in the future. The Supreme Court of Iowa, thus, vacated the decision of the court of appeals, and held that Gretchen was entitled to $52,158.
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