Sale of Farmland At Issue in Probate Proceedings.

The decedent died, survived by her three children and a grandchild.  Her daughter was appointed by the will as the estate’s personal representative.  Under the will, the residuary of the estate passed to her children.  The residuary estate included a quarter section of farmland and a farmstead.  At the time of death, the land was leased to a son under a one-year lease.  After death, the daughter entered into a lease contract with an option to buy with the tenant-son.  The lease provided for an annual rent payment of $9,350 and an option to buy the farmland at its appraised value of $248,222.  The other son claimed ownership of land under a contract for deed with the decedent.  The trial court dismissed the son’s action for specific performance, and the land was ultimately sold to the tenant-son for market value.  The daughter moved to dismiss her brother’s appeal on the basis that it was moot.  On appeal, the court determined that the daughter had the authority to lease and subsequently sell the farmland to the tenant-son if she was acting reasonably of the benefit of interested persons.  On that issue, the court held that the trial court had not provided supporting evidence to back its determination that the daughter was acting reasonably.  Thus, the court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings as to whether the daughter was acting reasonably for the benefit of interested persons.  In re Estate of Johnson, No. 20140173, 2015 N.D. LEXIS 109 (N.D. Sup. Ct. May 1, 2015).   

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