The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Estate of Gadash on Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Marital Agreement—Creditor Claim—Final Order—Notice of Appeal—Evidence.
Before their wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Gadash executed an antenuptial agreement (the first marital agreement). Under the terms of the first marital agreement, each spouse waived any right to the other’s pre-marital property. In 1978, they entered into a second marital agreement, wherein Mrs. Gadash waived her right to an elective share of Mr. Gadash’s estate and any benefit that would pass to her from it. In 2001, Mr. and Mrs. Gadash entered into a third marital agreement, wherein they mutually waived rights to certain real property listed in two exhibits attached to the agreement. The third marital agreement specifically incorporated the terms of the first marital agreement but was silent as to the second marital agreement. In 2008, Mr. Gadash executed his last will and testament. In it, he left all of his probate estate to his daughter, who is the personal representative of the estate. He also left a $2,000 gift to Mrs. Gadash.
Mr. Gadash died in 2014. His will was admitted to probate in an unsupervised estate administration. Mrs. Gadash later filed a petition for spouse’s elective share of the estate and filed a separate creditor’s claim against the personal representative for compensation for end-of-life services. The probate court ruled that the creditor’s claim was barred for failure to protest the personal representative’s notice of disallowance before the statutory deadline. Separately, the court denied the petition for spouse’s elective share.
On appeal, Mrs. Gadash contended that the probate court erred in barring her creditor’s claim. The personal representative contended that the probate court’s order barring the creditor’s claim was a final order that Mrs. Gadash failed to timely appeal. Mrs. Gadash’s petition for spouse’s elective share and creditor’s claim initiated independent proceedings. Therefore, the probate court’s order barring Mrs. Gadash’s creditor’s claim was a final order, which Mrs. Gadash failed to timely appeal, and the court of appeals lacked jurisdiction to consider this claim.
Mrs. Gadash also contended that the probate court erred when it considered the terms of the second marital agreement in denying her petition for spouse’s elective share. Specifically, she argued that the second marital agreement was rendered void by the third marital agreement. The third marital agreement contained no language indicating that it constituted the entire agreement between the parties with respect to its subject matter, and it expressly limited its scope to “only . . . those properties described” in the exhibits attached to the third marital agreement. It said nothing about the already existing document pertaining to the same general subject matter, nor did it purport to supersede the second marital agreement. Moreover, the second and third marital agreements govern distinct property. Thus, they are independently enforceable and can be given full force and effect without contradicting one another. Therefore, the third marital agreement did not render the second marital agreement void and the probate court properly considered the second marital agreement.
The appeal was dismissed in part and the order was affirmed.
Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.